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Soldier’s Personal Best in Discus Earns Gold at Warrior Games

WEST POINT, N.Y., June 18, 2016 — As medically retired Army Sgt. Monica “Mo” Southall stepped up to the pitch to throw her final shot put during the track and field competition in her final Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy here June 16, she held her emotions in check and defended her title, beating her personal discus record and earning a gold medal.

“I knew it was going to be pretty emotional, and it was, when I threw the discus for the last time [and] when I threw shot put for the last time,” she said. “It’s kind of a sad ending, but not really, because I know what I’ve accomplished here. I’m thankful, and I plan on finding a way to give back to others,” she said.

Southall said she also would love to help others who may consider trying out for the games and to come back as a mentor or coach. “I’ve learned so much over the years,” she added. “I’ve worked with some of the best coaches over the years here. They’ve taught me so much. I could definitely pass that on to somebody else to make them champions as well.”

Southall’s family stood by to support her throughout her final day of competition. “It’s been a very emotional day, said her aunt, Mary Ward, who spent her 60th birthday cheering on her niece. “I’ve had my eye on her and didn’t know how she was going to be affected this last day. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Southall’s wife, Tempestt, said it was emotional for her, because she knows how much the DoD Warrior Games mean to Monica. “I know how much it means to her to come out and compete and how emotional it was going to be for her to get out there and give it her all and just do extraordinary like she did,” she said. “She loves to be with her teammates. I’m just very proud that she has had the opportunity to do it for as long as she did, and she still has the support from us.”

Breaking Records

Southall earned a gold medal in the women’s shot put, throwing 11.43 meters, and her 35.96-meter discus throw, her personal best, earned a gold medal the same day. She earned a bronze medal in sitting volleyball yesterday.

“It felt wonderful getting a personal record in discus; it’s something I’ve been trying so hard to do,” she said. “I try to do better each round. I actually started with the first discus competition back in 2013. It was something I pushed hard for, because I really wanted to see it. The men had the category, and the women didn’t, so I kept complaining until we could get it. And to see where I started from, I think my best throw then was only 27 meters to now throwing 35 meters. It’s a lot of growth over the years. I’m just so proud I was able to get that record today.”

Southall has earned several medals at the DoD Warrior Games, Invictus Games and Valor Games over the years. She said she hopes to attend the Invictus Games again, mainly for powerlifting.

“I made a mental mistake that’s going to haunt me, so I have to have a chance to redeem myself, so I’d like to do one more just for powerlifting,” she said with a smile. “I’d like to do other events, but that’s the main event I’m chasing.”

Family Support

Southall said she enjoys having her family supporting her throughout all of her competitions. “ “They’re my biggest supporters and my biggest fans,” she said. “To hear them cheering for me and shouting for me is always something special, so I’m just happy they could be here and see my last Warrior Games and to see me succeed.”

Her mother, Barbara, has seen her daughter compete at two Invictus Games and four DoD Warrior Games. “Monica has that ‘never-give-up’ spirit. … [She] does so well because she tries her hardest and tries to help pull those up around her. It’s really outstanding, what she does.”

Southall -- who has injuries to her knees, shoulders and spinal cord as well as post-traumatic stress -- said she hopes to compete in one more Invictus Games, the Valor Games and Endeavor Games and to stay in touch with her teammates.
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