During one of Sam Kendricks’ practice runs, “The Star-Spangled Banner” started playing over the stadium speakers. He stopped and set down his pole to stand at attention.
The clip has been viewed millions of times in the past several days.
But it’s only natural for Kendricks, who serves in the Army Reserves.
He told the Clarion-Ledger:
“They say back home, and jokingly in track circles, that if you win a medal it will change your life. I think your life is changed on the way to that medal, honestly.
With all the journeys and sacrifices that you make, all the training that you do, and the people you leave at home to watch. That is what is really the value of the (medal). I’m glad I have something tangible to bring home and show for it.
I know that everybody in Oxford will love to see it. But the journey, like my coach says, is the goal. Not necessarily the medals. And it’s very fun to come and compete, but not necessarily the end of all things.”
Kendricks won a bronze medal during the Rio Olympics, the first U.S. medal in pole-vaulting in more than a decade.