Autumn Cote said she had no expectations when she arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia, earlier this month to compete in the Women's Armlifting World Championships. However, she had one goal.
"If I get up on stage in St. Petersburg, I'm going to hold up an American flag," Cote said in an earlier interview.
And that she did.
The 36-year-old Bear Valley Springs woman not only earned her way onstage, but she also did it five times by scoring gold and bronze medals as a member of Team USA, which took home silver overall.
"We are second in the world right now," Cote said.
Cote won the two gold medals in the Saxon and The Hub categories, and three bronze medals for the Silver Bullet, Rolling Thunder and Axle Lift categories. In addition, she received a Master of Sport pin as an elite team member.
The flag she carried with her onstage was given to her by a retired U.S. Army sergeant and flown during battle in Iraq in 2003-04 and Afghanistan in 2008-09.
"Please accept this American flag as my token of friendship, strength and honor," Sgt. Frank Castle wrote in a letter he gave Cote along with the flag. "May this flag bring you and yours as much strength, courage and honor as it has brought me."
Cote was one of 22 members of Team USA who were invited to compete May 10 through 12 in the world championships, of which 17 actually made it to Russia.
"I think that's pretty good," Cote said. "There wasn't that many the year before, so it is a marked improvement."
She is a nine-time state arm wrestling champion.
"For me, why I am so proud of her ... is that mustered enough courage up to go to an entire different country, get up on the stage in front of thousands of people and do this," said Cote's husband, Ray.
Autumn said she enjoyed her time in St. Petersburg, which she said was one of the cleanest cities she has ever seen.
"I just wanted the experience of being on a world stage and competing in a sport that I very much fell in love with. I did that. I accomplished it. Just getting these medals, was a shock. It was absolutely amazing," she said.