Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III awards a track and field gold medal to Sgt. Monica Southall after she won gold medals in the standing discus and standing shot put, at the Warrior Games on Tuesday.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III awards a track and field gold medal to Sgt. Monica Southall after she won gold medals in the standing discus and standing shot put, at the Warrior Games on Tuesday.

Archived Story

Southall wins two gold, one silver medal

Published 8:19pm Saturday, May 18, 2013

Army Sgt. Monica Southall, a Suffolk native, earned two individual gold medals and was part of the silver medal-winning Army sitting volleyball team during the 2013 Warrior Games, which ended Thursday.

Southall’s performance helped Army wind up in second place in the total medal standings, 15 points behind the U.S. Marines, who won the Chairman’s Cup with 100 points.

Southall is the daughter of Wilbert and Barbara Southall of Suffolk. She is a National Guard automated logistics specialist currently assigned to the Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit in Virginia.

The Warrior Games event, which was in its fourth year and is held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., featured more than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations, as well as one international team from the U.K.

Army Sgt. Monica Southall, an automated logistics specialist assigned to the Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit in Virginia and a 2012 Warrior Games gold medalist in sitting volleyball, sets up a shot for her teammates during the 2013 Warrior Games sitting volleyball preliminaries on Monday.
Army Sgt. Monica Southall, an automated logistics specialist assigned to the Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit in Virginia and a 2012 Warrior Games gold medalist in sitting volleyball, sets up a shot for her teammates during the 2013 Warrior Games sitting volleyball preliminaries on Monday.

While serving in Afghanistan, in September 2009, Southall sustained injuries to her shoulders, lower back and right knee and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a type of anxiety disorder that can occur after someone has gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involved the threat of injury or death.

“Before I went to Afghanistan, I played basketball, volleyball and softball,” she told a reporter last week. “When I got back, I sat in my room and was depressed. Adaptive sports and the Warrior Games gave me a reason to want to do something other than sit around and feel sorry for myself. The Warrior Games gave me the chance to be active and competitive again.”

Teams this week competed in seven sports, including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball.

The games officially kicked off May 12, and the Army sitting volleyball team put on an impressive display of its skills early by crushing both of its competitors during the preliminary games that day.

Southall, a former sitting volleyball gold medalist, helped the Army team to an early lead against the Special Operations Command team, which Army beat in straight sets, 25-21 and 25-12. Army then struggled against Air Force, finally winning in three tough sets, 18-25,

25-20 and 15-13.

On the way to the medal round, Army lost a three-set match to the team from the United Kingdom and lost a two-setter against the U.S. Marines before battling back past the Navy and Air Force teams for a chance to face the Marines again in the gold-medal match on Wednesday.

With the U.K. team having edged Navy in a three-set match for the bronze, all that was left was to see who would be this year’s top team, and spectators at the event could hardly have asked for a more exciting conclusion, as Army and Marines battled to two close finishes in a row. In the end, the Marines won both games 25-21, grabbing the gold medal and extra points toward their Chairman’s Cup finish in the games.

The second-place finish earned Southall and her teammates silver medals. But she had already earned gold with her commanding wins in the standing shot put and standing discus throw on Tuesday.

Her 11.73-meter throw in the women’s shot put open event was more than 2.5 meters better than the second-place effort by a member of the team from the Marines, and it helped earn her the distinction of winning gold in three out of the Warrior Games’ four years of existence, having won top honors in 2010, 2012 and now, 2013.

Southall had a similarly dominating presence in the women’s discus open event, hurling the discus 30.46 meters, nearly six meters farther than her closest competitor and again giving Army the edge over the Marines.

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