By Debbie Gregory.
Although the United States Army Marksmanship Unit didn’t medal at the Rio Olympic games, Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks won Olympic bronze, following what he called “the most enjoyable pole vault competition of his life” on Monday, August 15th.
But perhaps more notable than the medal win is the fact that Kendricks stopped, mid-run on a jump during his qualifying round, when he overheard our national anthem being played. Kendricks dropped his pole and stood at attention.
Kendricks said that his Olympic experience has taught him that your life is changed along the way to winning a medal. But it speaks volumes that young member displayed outstanding character that outpaced any medal he could have won.
“With all the journeys and sacrifices that you make and all the training that you do, and the people you leave at home to watch, that is really the value of the medal,” he said.
“I’m glad I have something tangible to bring home … I know that everybody in Oxford, my hometown, will love to see it. But the journey, like my coach says, is the goal, not necessarily the medal.”
His future journey will include time serving as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve.
U.S. Army specialist Paul Chelimo, who was born in Kenya, won an Olympic silver medal in the men’s 5000 meters. And his medal also comes with a story.
Minutes after the race was completed, a number of runners, including Chelimo, were disqualified for stepping off the track.
“It was really tactical and they (the Ethiopians) kept pushing me because they were working as a team. It’s never easy to run a race and run against a team. … But the Army has taught me to be mentally and physically tough,” Chelimo said.