Upon entering her second Olympics, midfielder Carli Lloyd found herself out of a starting job. She scored the winning goal in the gold medal game at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but as the London games began, it looked like she might not even play.
After three years as a starter, she says she was shocked but not discouraged.
“I dug deeper, trained even harder,” she said. “I was not going to let all my hard work go to waste.”
Just two weeks later, Lloyd scored both American goals in front of the largest crowd in women’s Olympic soccer history.
“One of the proudest moments in my entire life,” she said.
Growing up in Delran, N.J., Lloyd never went far without a soccer ball. At least, that’s how her old neighbors remember it.
“I was into it when I was five years old, and everywhere I went I had a soccer ball,” she said. “I would kick the ball up against the curb for hours and hours.”
Eventually she went on to play for Delran AA and the Medford Strikers before earning a spot on the Rutgers women’s soccer team. For her, youth athletics are an important part of growing up.
“Being in a sport really identifies life’s challenges,” she said. “Is a tough situation going to make or break you?”
Lloyd plans to return to the Olympics when the 2016 games open in Rio de Janeiro.
“I feel I’m in the prime of my career right now,” she said. “If I can keep going, I’m going to keep going as long as I can.”