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US pole vaulter Sam Kendricks stops mid-stride to stand at attention for national anthem

When he heard those familiar notes of the 'Star-Spangled Banner,' pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army reserve, knew what he had to do.
/ Source: TODAY

When 'The Star-Spangled Banner' started playing during his competition in Rio, U.S. pole vaulter Sam Kendricks literally dropped what he was doing to pay respect to the national anthem.

Kendricks, 23, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve, was flying down the runway on his way to a vault when he abruptly stopped, dropped his pole and stood at attention when he heard the anthem playing.

The patriotic act by Kendricks came during a qualifying jump last week and drew praise from many.

One of 18 U.S. athletes in Rio who also serve in the military, he ended up finishing with a bronze medal thanks to a vault of 19 feet, 2 1/4 inches.

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The Mississippi native became the first American to take home a medal in that event since Timothy Mack won gold in Athens in 2004. A two-time NCAA champion, he also is the third track and field athlete from the University of Mississippi to win an Olympic medal.

Kendricks comes from a military family, as his father, Scott, served 10 years in the U.S. Marines and is now his son's coach in the pole vault.

"Those guys are really proud of me and have given me every chance to continue as a civilian,” Kendricks told the official Team USA website. "(I'm proud) to represent the Americans on two fronts, as a military man and as a U.S. athlete."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.