Sam Kendricks was part of team USA at the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, but he is so much more than just a pole vaulting champion.
18 athletes represented the U.S. military in Rio and Kendricks was a part of that distinctive group of individuals. The former Ole Miss track star is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve. According to The Washington Post, “[Kendricks] won the bronze in the men’s pole vault earlier this week with a jump of 19 feet 2¼ inches, becoming the first American to medal in the event in 12 years.”
During a qualifying round for his Olympic event, Kendricks overheard the National Anthem begin to play. He had already started his run, but that didn’t stop him from halting completely to drop his pole and stand at attention. NBC reposted the video to its Twitter feed on Sunday.
“Those guys are really proud of me and have given me every chance to continue as a civilian. I am certainly looking to represent the Americans on two fronts, as a military man and as a U.S. athlete,” Kendricks told USA Today. “I’m just trying to put my best foot forward for all those soldiers who are watching.”
If Kendricks was penalized in any way for his actions, it didn’t matter. He ultimately medaled and won the hearts of Americans around the world who praised him for his patriotism.