Soldier Defends Field Competition Titles, Gathers Invictus Gold Again
By Shannon Collins
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
ORLANDO, Fla., May 11, 2016 Medically retired Army Sgt. Monica Mo Southall defended her title by earning gold medals in the womens shot put and discus at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World during the 2016 Invictus Games here.
I was defending my title, and they knew that. So they were coming for me, but I pulled it off again, so Im happy, she said.
Southall said because of her injuries, her arms tend to give out a little bit after throwing discus first, so her shot put isnt as good as she likes, but she set a personal record for discus, 33.98 meters, more than 10 meters than her competitors.
*Not About Medals*
Southall competed in powerlifting and rowing May 9. Rowing isnt my event, but Im happy I went out there and finished both races. So, Im happy with that; same thing with powerlifting, she said. Even though I didnt medal, there was a time when I couldnt lift my arms. I had six months of recovery on both shoulders at one time within one year, so to be able to lift 159 pounds even though it didnt count, to be able to lift that, when at one time I couldnt even lift my arms, Its amazing.
Thats what events like this are for, she continued. Its not about the medals. Sometimes its about what you accomplish personally for yourself.
At the London Invictus Games in 2014, Southall took the gold medal in both shot put and discus, and a silver medal in wheelchair rugby and seated volleyball.
Her wife, Tempestt Southall, is proud of her.
I knew she was going to do it, Tempestt said, laughing. Shes incredible. Im very proud of her. You always get scared as a family member, but she represents Team USA really well. She did amazing. Shes an amazing athlete and an amazing person. Shes so humble. Every time she comes to a game, its great to see her with her fellow athletes. Its amazing.
Throughout the week, more than 500 wounded, ill and injured service members from 14 nations have been competing in 10 sporting events as they are cheered on by thousands of family members, friends and spectators.
Southall said the camaraderie among the athletes has been great. After receiving their medals, Army 1st Maj. Cpl. Pellegrina Caputo from the Italian team, who earned a gold medal in shot put in her disability category, asked her if they could switch jerseys.
Ive been bonding with athletes from all over the world and have loved the atmosphere in the village and in the field, so I wanted to keep this bond of friendship, Caputo said. She said she beat her own record when she earned her medal.
I was very happy. I cried, she said. It wasnt just about the medal, but about beating my previous record, so Im very happy.
Southall said she thought the shirt swap was really cool and that she loves the camaraderie. Everybodys so friendly and nice, just like they were in London, she said. They just carried it over here to Orlando. I just love that I can get along with people who are from other nations who may have the same issues as me. We are just one big family here.
Southall served 12 years in the Army National Guard as an automated logistical specialist. During a deployment to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009, she was conducting inventory on top of a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle near Forward Operating Base Shank when ordnance from an airstrike landed too close.
Southall injured her knees, shoulders and spinal cord and has post-traumatic stress. She has undergone 14 surgeries. She said adaptive sports and events like the Department of Defense Warrior Games and the Invictus Games help her with her recovery process.
Southall has earned several gold, silver and bronze medals at the Warrior Games since 2010. This years games next month at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, she said, will be her final Warrior Games.
Im going to give my all and try to get the gold there as well, but its going to be very emotional, she said. As the attendant announces me and says, For the last time, Monica Southall when I do the shot and discus, Im going to try not to cry, but I think I will. Its going to be very emotional. But I need to give other soldiers a chance to compete who may need this to get them to the next step in their life, so Im willing to part with it.
She said she hopes to compete at next years Invictus Games in Toronto and at the Veterans Affairs Valor Games and Endeavor Games.
2016 Invictus Games [ http://invictusgames2016.org/?source=GovDelivery ]
Special Report: 2016 Invictus Games [ http://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0516_invictus-games?source=GovDelivery ]