First American to Take Home Gold Medal Becomes Most Decorated Competitor at Invictus Games

PHOTO: Sarah Rudder became the most decorated competitor at the Invictus Games in Orlando, winning four gold and three silver medals. PlayErica Scott/ABC News
WATCH Sarah Rudder Talks Success, Frustration at Invictus Games in Orlando

Around Sarah Rudder's neck shine four gold medals and three silver medals. The retired U.S. Marine Lance Corporal, 33, has become the most decorated competitor at the Invictus Games so far, and she's also the first American to win gold at the games in Orlando, Florida.

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One of those silver medals was almost another gold, as she lead the 200 meter race this morning, but only a few seconds away from winning, she tripped. She quickly pulled herself up, and crossed the finish line shortly behind France's Marian Clot. The French runner immediately turned around to help and hug Rudder at the finish line.

"My leg didn't want to keep up with me," she told ABC News' Bob Woodruff. "I fell and I knew I had to finish the race. I just got up and finished as much as I could."

Rudder wears a prosthetic on her left leg, which was amputated below the knee after a cement block fell on her during the September 11, 2001 attacks. Rudder was being promoted to Lance Corporal in front of the Pentagon when American Airline Flight 77 crashed into the building. She was part of the rescue operation immediately pulling survivors and non-survivors from the building.

When she sprints down the track, she doesn't run alone. With her is Superwoman, decorated on her prosthetic leg; a reminder to her of the woman she tries to emulate.

"Even though she's not exactly real, we still have someone to look up to and know that a woman is known for her strength," Rudder says. "I want to be known for that as well."

PHOTO: Sarah Rudder, who wears a prosthetic on her left leg, became the first American to win gold at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida. Erica Scott/ABC News
Sarah Rudder, who wears a prosthetic on her left leg, became the first American to win gold at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida.

For years, Rudder battled with her injury, undergoing five surgeries to save her fractured leg. Each surgery gave her hope, a chance that her leg might heal and allow her to return to the work she loves. But the decision to amputate in 2014 was ultimately what gave her back the life she wanted.

"I feel like I'm back in high school again," Rudder says. "I'm able to hit the track and keep up with athletes that are much younger than me, and it's an amazing feeling." Rudder said, showing Woodruff her decorated prosthetic. "My only regret was that I wish I had done it sooner."

PHOTO: Sarah Rudder, who wears a prosthetic on her left leg, became the first American to win gold at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida. Erica Scott/ABC News
Sarah Rudder, who wears a prosthetic on her left leg, became the first American to win gold at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida.

Rudder completed her track and field events, and will compete in the pool tomorrow in the 100m crawl. For her, competing on the U.S. team is about more than just collecting hardware ­-- it's about the same commitment she made back when she joined the Marines.

"Were putting our heart and soul out on the line for our country just like we do in battle," she says. "And we're here to represent."

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