What being a Olympic gold medalist means to soccer player Lindsay Tarpley
Even though the Rio 2016 Olympics are over, it doesn't mean we don't still have gold medals on our mind. That's where Lindsay Tarpley comes in, 2-time gold medalist in soccer, and all-around inspirational athlete.
Team USA won gold in women's soccer, with Tarpley on their team, in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing. On top of that, in 2007, she was a part of the US women's national team that finished third in the Women's World Cup in China.
Since her time at the Olympics, Tarpley has continued to follow what she loves, co-founding a makeup line known as Sweat Cosmetics with four other female athletes, and running a kid's soccer camp in the summertime.
We recently chatted with the gold medalist about her time heading to the Olympics, advice she gives to athletes, and more. Check out the full interview below.
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How did you first fall in love with soccer?
I started playing soccer when I was about four years old because I had an older brother who played soccer. From the minute I was on the field, I instantly just fell in love with it. I love the activity, I love being a part of something. I just fell in love with it.
Were the Olympics always on your mind growing up as a kid, or was that something that come into view later on?
As a kid I always had an internal competitiveness that held me to a high standard. As I continued to develop and grow, I realized that I wanted to pursue it and push myself to be the absolute best I could be. With that, I started trying out for different teams, and started to challenge myself more and more. I kept that competitiveness and it really fueled me to reach the top. It was my goal when I was 9 or 10 years old -- that's when I realized that's [the Olympics] what I wanted to accomplish.
What kind of training precedes going to the Olympics? What does a normal training day look like for you?
It's very intense. Every day is a little bit different. Some days there's one training session, some days there's weights and training, and then sometimes there's double days. Usually we train six days a week. What's very unique is that going to the Olympics is what you're ultimately working towards, but it's those days leading up to it when your character is really defined: the good times, the bad times, when you push yourself when no one is watching to be that much better. It's those times that really make the journey to the Olympics so special.
What did it mean for you to be on the Olympic team? What did that mean to you?
The responsibility of representing your country is such an honor. I also think pride is a big point for me. You try to hard to represent your country and it's such a powerful moment, when I look back on that part of my life I smile, because it took a lot to be able to represent the United States. For me, it really shaped who I am as a person now. I look back on those days leading up to being an Olympian, and those days really define who I am.
What was going through your mind when you first won a gold medal?
My journey leading up to my first gold medal, I was trying to be the best that I could be for my team. I was a younger player at the time, and I was playing with a lot of veteran players on the team, and I went into every training session thinking: how can I get better? Every single sessions I wanted to leave better than I was when I arrived. That type of attitude really helped guide me and shape me through that journey to being a gold medalist.
What is life like once you've won a gold medal? And then really pushing yourself to get another?
After both Olympics, I kind of went through a down period where you work so hard to obtain this goal, and when I actually accomplished it, when I came home, it was incredible, but at the same time, what's next? What's my next goal? Knowing that it's okay to take a couple months, let everything sink in, and relish in that accomplish. I also think being an elite athlete for me, is always continuing to push myself and I knew that even after we came home winning the gold medal that I still wanted to push and get better. SO, having that mentality definitely helped me play at the level I played at for the time I did. Being at the Olympics at such a huge stage, it was an incredible moment in my life.
What was it like to be a female icon in such a male-dominated field?
I just try to make sure I'm focusing on myself and doing the best I can, and in turn that really helps my team. Being a part of something bigger than myself, being a part of a team, showed me and shaped me. Focusing on what I could bring and my qualities and working on the things I needed to work on really helped me, for not only my Olympic journey, but now as a person outside of sports.
What's the one piece of advice you'd give to striving Olympians?
Enjoy the journey. As I said before, I look back on my Olympic experiences and those were days when it was tough, and I left the field thinking I got a little bit better -- those are the moments that really define your character. I was really fortunate to win two gold medals but now looking back on my whole Olympic journey, it's really shaped me into the person I am now.
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