Four years ago, a then twenty-year-old Lauren Cheney was the last to secure a spot on the US Soccer Olympic roster; and that was because national star Abby Wambach had broken her leg a few months before Beijing. Four years later, growing into a veteran player, Cheney has adapted to every role head coach Pia Sundhage has thrown at her. This time around, in London, Cheney herself says she’s going to be a “Gamechanger”.
1. What is your mindset going into London this summer? Have you moved on from the result of the World Cup last July, or is the idea of redemption present?
“The result in the World Cup was obviously not the result we all wanted but I think that redemption isn’t the right word. We love to compete and we love to win. Going into London, our mindset will be just that. We want to win every time we step on the field.”
2. The exposure that the Women’s National Team has received over the past year following the World Cup has been incredible. How have you managed to stay focused on your individual game, day-to-day, in and out of camp?
“I think the exposure is just a bonus. I’m still the same girl doing what I have to do to stay on top of my game. Our whole team is very humble and team oriented so it’s easy to stay focused.”
3. How exciting is it, and what does it say about the future of the Women’s National Team to have players such as yourself, Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, and Kelley O’Hara, all under the age of 25, on the field, getting winning results together?
“Obviously the youth of our team is exciting. A lot of us have played together for a while, on our youth national teams and on up to the full team, and I think it’s wonderful that we are getting experience in huge games. I’d say the future looks alright to me.”
4. How much does friendship off of the field account for chemistry and success on the field?
“I think that’s what makes our team special. We have arguably the most competitive environment in any sport and we still like each other. Our friendships give us that unity and fight on the field. We are all in it together.”
5. In 2008, you were the last player to make the Olympic roster following Abby Wambach’s injury. Four years later, your individual game and your role on the team have grown. You’ve gone from a forward to a midfielder, specifically, playing the #10 spot in the 4-2-3-1 formation; responsible for creating, attacking, and linking the midfield with the forwards. Can you talk a bit about that growth and transition? As a soccer player, who is Lauren Cheney today in 2012 as opposed to four years ago in 2008 before your first Olympics?
“My role has changed significantly from 2008. Pia has used me as a utility player, which at times isn’t always easy, but it’s a compliment in that she believes in my ability to play no matter where I am on the field. The transition from barely making the team to playmaking has been a lot of fun. I like learning new positions and I love the ball at my feet. Lauren Cheney in 2012 will hopefully be a game changer.”
6. Is representing the US in the Olympic Games the highest acomplishment for an athlete?
“I think that I can only speak for myself but playing for Team USA and singing our national anthem has got to be the greatest honor I’ve ever received.”
7. In your eyes, as a top competitor in your sport heading into London, is winning gold simply a goal, or is it the only option?
“Every player that came before us on the Women’s National Team established an environment where winning was expected. I think for this team winning gold is our only focus.”
8. Aside from competition, what makes the Olympic experience so memorable?
“All the countries and diversity in one place striving for the same goal regardless of politics, race or religion. That’s something that you don’t see often. I think that’s pretty cool.”
9. Throughout your career, did the accomplishment of participating in the Olympic Games always seem attainable?
“I guess I was a pretty confident six-year-old because since then I always believed it was going to happen.”
10. Is there a special camaraderie that exists between fellow Olympians? If any member of Team USA were to win a medal, would it be as if you won it as well?
“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, or what your story is, the respect amongst Olympians is incredible. I feel like any Team USA medal is as exciting as the next.”
We will continue our 2012 Team USA / London Olympics Interview Series all month leading up to the start of the Games. Find all the interviews and more Team USA coverage on the DoubleGSports.com Team USA page.