As soon as U.S. Army Reserve Second Lieutenant Sam Kendricks heard the first notes of The Star-Spangled Banner, he immediately decelerated and stopped his approach to the pole vault, set down his pole, turned and stood at attention.
It was a remarkable change of focus, but Kendricks was certain he was doing the right thing. He went on to win the bronze medal in the men’s pole vault at Rio 2016.
“As a military man and as a U.S. athlete, I keep my haircut in order to put the best foot forward for all the soldiers who are watching,” he said. “Those guys are really proud of me and have given me every chance to continue as a civilian … [proud] to represent the Americans on two fronts, as a military man and as a U.S. athlete.”