By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With just sixty days left until the Rio 2016 Olympic games, Team USA football (soccer) star Christen Press took some time to share her thoughts on the upcoming Olympic tournament. A total of 26 games will be played in the women’s tournament with Team USA in the Group G draw with New Zealand, France, and Colombia, and their first match will be on August 3rd, against New Zealand in Belo Horizonte.
As one of the youngest players on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team (USWNT), Press quickly earned the respect of her teammates in the opening game of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup when she scored a goal, leading her team to a victory over Australia and advancing them in the tournament.
Throughout the rest of the tournament, Christen remained a crucial contributor and a leader on and off the field. Even recently, with the USWNT on their “Victory Tour” around the country, Christen has consistently been scoring goals and even had a few hat-tricks.
Now, with the 2016 Olympics rapidly approaching, the 27-year-old is excited to bring her talents to the Cidade Maravilhosa, and talks about her impressions of Brazil. “I have been to Brasília, but not Rio,” Press told The Rio Times. Adding, “I’m excited to be able to see a lot of different regions in Brazil this Olympics. It’s a beautiful country with a rich culture. My best friend currently lives in São Paulo and speaks so highly of his experience there.”
With her Stanford education, cover-girl smile, and olympic athletic talent, Press is a formidable package. Yet, not one to rest on her previous accomplishments, she is driven to reach greater heights, including at the Games. “My personal goal is always to be the best version of myself. That means staying focused, improving, and never letting up. As a team, our team holds the highest standards. We are going to Brazil with full intention to win gold, and we find a lot of pride and strength in that resolve.”
On the heels of winning the World Cup, the prospects for the team look good. Ex-star and ESPN commentator Julia Foudy said, “The U.S. women’s national team should absolutely win the Olympic gold medal in Rio, because well, it is the U.S. team.”
Adding, “This isn’t me being patriotically swayed (although it does happen on occasion), but rather, realistic. Factual. The U.S. women’s team has more funding, more players, more support, more everything than every other women’s team in the world. And not by a little. By a lot.”
For other young athletes looking to achieve their dreams, Christen Press says the most important thing is to approach each day as an opportunity to improve, “Just stay focused on each day. What are you doing today to be the best version of you?” Christen shared, “Enjoy each moment and each experience for what it is. The value is in the journey.”
The 2016 Rio Olympics will take place on August 5th to the 21st, and is the first Olympic Games to take place in South America. It is expected that over ten thousand athletes will arrive soon to Rio and be staying at the Olympic Village in Barra da Tijuca, along with an estimated 500,000 international fans in the city.
Five other cities aside from Rio are hosting games in the football tournament: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, Salvador and Sao Paulo. Both Men’s and Women’s finals will be played at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, with the women going for gold on the August 19th and the men on August 20th.