Posted on December 15, 2016
We can’t decide which is more remarkable: Sarah Rudder’s Invictus Games 2016 story or her September 11 story.
We’ll let you decide.
On September 11, Sarah (who had enlisted in 2000) was being promoted to Lance Corporal at a ceremony in front of the Pentagon when American Flight 77 hit the building.
“As soon as the plane hit, we ran to aid in relief,” she recalls. “The next day I was pulling non-survivors from the Pentagon, where I pretty much shattered my ankle attempting to remove a non-survivor.”
A cement block had fallen on her during the recovery effort. She underwent five reconstructive surgeries, but in 2014 she had to make the decision to have her left leg amputated. “The pain was debilitating, I couldn’t take it anymore,” she told ESPN.
Sarah first learned about the Semper Fi Fund through other Marines, and first got involved with Team Semper Fi when she volunteered for the San Diego Marathon. Prior to the 2016 Invictus Games, she competed in the 2015 Warrior Games and the Pentagon Sitting Volleyball Tournament.
Participating in sports, she says, is about “being able to remain a part of the military family through sport.” She certainly made that family proud at the 2016 Invictus Games, where she became the first American to win gold and–with seven medals to her name–become the most decorated competitor of the Games: She won gold medals in lightweight powerlifting, one-minute indoor rowing, discus and the 100-meter dash and took home the silver in four-minute indoor rowing, shotput and the 200-meter dash.
Sarah, who trained for the Invictus Games with a daily regimen of CrossFit, running, swimming, rowing and throwing, notes that her inspiration for achieving such athletic success during competition comes from “watching the other service members with more than one missing limb, blind, or partial paralysis compete and put their heart and souls on the line for their countries.”
“I would love for other service members to be inspired by all the athletes that came out to Invictus Games,” she adds, “and to know that they can overcome their physical and emotional wounds through sport–because we are a family and we are here for you.”