(Editor's note: This article was written before the U.S. team won the gold medal in London 2012 Olympics.)
By Katie Neff, AIA Communications
Four years ago midfielder Tobin Heath was a new face on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. She made her team debut in January of 2008 against Finland, and played off the bench in three games during the Beijing Olympics, where her team brought home a gold medal.
Now, as Heath looks toward another opportunity to win the gold in London, she has the benefit of greater experience to guide her, including four appearances in the Women’s World Cup last year.
“My 2008 Olympic experience was nothing short of extraordinary. I felt like a kid on the ride of my life. Fast-forward to 2012, and I feel so blessed to get to experience the Olympics again,” says Heath.
The past four years have also included challenges for Heath, such as illness and an ankle injury during the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer season that prevented her from playing with the U.S. She made a comeback to the national team in 2011, playing in 15 games, including key World Cup appearances.
“I think my approach is the same as 2008 but my perspective is as an athlete that has had four more years to prepare and grow. Hopefully the outcome is the same as 2008,” she says.
“Each day I wake up full of purpose to train with a winning mentality.”
Training for the Olympics has been especially grueling this year, as thirty potential players competed for 18 coveted spots on the Olympic team. Although it has been an intense season of preparation, Heath feels that, to some extent, she has been getting ready for this opportunity her entire life.
“Personally, I think as an Olympic athlete, you are being prepared your whole life for a moment like the Olympics. So much of who you are and why you are being given this opportunity began way before you even made the team,” she reflects. “Each day I wake up full of purpose to train with a winning mentality.”
“I use this same discipline in my spiritual life as well,” she adds. “I just want to continue to grow in my faith and in the gifts God has given me.”
A strong Christian, Heath is quick to credit her faith for the drive she feels to work hard and push herself toward the next goal, whether it’s a spot on a roster or Olympic gold.
“My faith challenges me every day to love deeper, train harder, and glorify God no matter what the outcome,” she says.
And although Heath and her teammates have one clear outcome in mind – another gold medal – the gold isn’t the only thing that she is anticipating in London.
“I realized in 2008 that the best part about the Olympics is being part of something so much bigger than just your event,” says Heath. “The Olympic atmosphere becomes a community of athletes that compete at the highest level with a unity that transcends your sport, gender and race.”
The U.S. Women’s Team plays their first Olympic game against France on July 25.