An American pole vaulter has received much praise after stopping mid-run for the national anthem.
Sam Kendricks was running toward an attempt at the pole vault when he stopped, dropped his pole and stood for the Star Spangled Banner.
Fortunately for Kendricks, the interrupted run was in the qualifying round. He went on to win a bronze medal Sunday at the Rio Olympics.
“If Ryan Lochte and his swim pals tarnished the reputation of U.S. athletes with their gas station bathroom antics last week, then 2nd Lieutenant (Army Reserve) Sam Kendricks polished it up quite a bit on Sunday night,” sportsgrid.com wrote. “It may seem like a small thing — some may even say foolish — but man did we need that right now. After Lochte’s shenanigans and subsequent interviews, out national image was hanging like it was attached by worn duct tape.”
It wasn’t Kendricks’ only spontaneous act that earned him praise. His seemingly celebratory reaction to Brazilian pole vaulter Thiago Braz da Silva winning the gold got him a special shout out on Twitter.
Kendricks’ father, and coach, described him as not his fastest or strongest athlete but a determined one who gravitated toward the pole vault where his more technical skills could allow him to excel.
“When he was young and was the smallest guy out there, everybody beat Sam,” Scott Kendricks told The Oxford Eagle. “Until he was like a senior in high school. Then when he got to college, everybody beat him again for like two years. As a dad, I was just proud he was able to do something well and consistently well.”
Scott Kendricks, a respected specialist in pole vault and high jump, was determined to help his son be the best. He followed him to his alma mater Ole Miss, as a volunteer assistant coach to focus on his son’s athletic career.
“Those guys are really proud of me and have given me every chance to continue as a civilian,” Kendricks told USA Today. “I am certainly looking to represent the Americans on two fronts, as a military man and as a U.S. athlete … I’m just trying to put my best foot forward for all those soldiers who are watching.”
Last year, the younger Kendricks became a professional with Nike foregoing his senior year eligibility at the University of Mississippi, according to Team-Kendricks.com.