Sarah Rudder was on the verge of a key promotion in the U.S. Marines on September 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks struck and eventually left her without a leg.
But she has come back from that setback to thrive on another stage, winning seven medals in two days of Paralympic events — ranging from rowing to shot-put — at the international Invictus Games founded by Britain’s Prince Harry for wounded members of armed services.
Ms. Rudder, awaiting her promotion ceremony, was unscathed in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon and able to help others to safety.
However, two days later, when she returned to the defence complex to help remove remains of victims, her left ankle got stuck in a concrete barrier and was crushed. The injury, which required five reconstructive surgeries, eventually led to her left leg being amputated two years ago.
“The pain was debilitating,” Ms. Rudder said. “I couldn’t take it anymore.”
After struggling to deal with the loss of a limb, Ms. Rudder found a way to turn despair into triumph through sports.
She became a part of the military’s Wounded Warrior program, which paved the way for her to compete in the Invictus Games.
Excelling at the Invictus Games, which includes nearly 400 wounded and sick servicemen and women from 14 countries around the world, allows Ms. Rudder to prove that her injury won’t limit what she can accomplish.
“I might be missing a leg but there are people out there missing two and three limbs or are paralysed from the waist down or chest down. They are my inspiration.
“Me just having one leg missing, I’m able to look at them and say, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’”