RIO DE JANEIRO — Meet the American athlete ready to serve his country “on two fronts.”

On Saturday, Sam Kendricks will represent the USA in the pole vault.

When not training or competing, however, Kendricks can often be found in Millington, Tenn., where he serves as a second lieutenant in the 655th Transportation Company of the Army Reserves.

The 23-year-old was commissioned into the duty after graduating from the University of Mississippi, where he was a two-time NCAA champion in the event.

“Those guys are really proud of me and have given me every chance to continue as a civilian,” Kendricks said. “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.”

In total, 19 competitors at the Rio Games are either currently in the U.S. armed services, retired from duty or, as with Guam’s Regine Tugade, set to enroll at one of the three service academies — the Naval Academy, in Tugade’s case.

“The sacrifices that you make set precedent for the rest of your life in sports,” Kendricks said. “They become who you are. Ten years down the road I will see my sacrifices. We are athletes, and we live this life to try to represent ourselves professionally.

“It’s about having a plan and seeing yourself through a long journey. I don’t consider it a sacrifice.”

In the pole vault (the final is Monday), Kendricks is second on the world list this season, clearing 5.92 meters (19 feet, 5 1/4 inches), behind only Renaud Lavillenie of France, who has cleared 5.96. Between Kendricks, Lavillenie, Canada’s Shawn Barber and Brazil’s Thiago Braz de Silva, “the competition is very open,” he said.

“We all know our limits, but it depends on the day and conditions of the meet to see how everyone will do,” Kendricks said.





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