Angela Hucles, the all-time leading scorer in Virginia women’s soccer history will be making her second trip to the Olympics with the United States Women’s National Team. In 2004, she was a member of the American team that won the gold medal in Athens. She and her teammates look to defend their Olympic title as play begins on August 6. The Americans will meet Norway, Japan, and New Zealand in Group G. Question: This year you are getting to compete in your second Olympic soccer tournament. How does it feel to now be a two-time Olympian?
Hucles: Obviously I am excited to be going to the Olympics again, it is a tremendous honor. For the most part, it is a completely different team than 2004. There are a lot of players on this year’s team that are making their first trip to the Olympics, so that makes it exciting. Question: Obviously winning the gold medal four years ago was a great memory. What else about your last Olympic experience was memorable?
Hucles: Just to be a part of the Olympics. It is something that everyone around the world, no matter the sport, strives to compete in. We got to meet other Olympians from different sports. We got to see some of the other events. Just to be in that atmosphere was special. Question: Did anything about the Olympic experience surprise you?
Hucles: There wasn’t anything that surprised me, and I think that meant that I was prepared. It is just such a large-scale event, with all the sports, that you don’t truly grasp it until you see it. Question: Is there any difference to playing in the Olympics compared to a major international soccer tournament, like the World Cup?
Hucles: There is a difference. With the World Cup, it is very specific. It is just soccer. With the Olympics, there are so many sports, so many venues all over the place, and we (soccer) are just a part of it. At a World Cup, it is easier to focus solely on soccer since that is all that people are watching and talking about. At the Olympics, there are so many other events that are going on at the same time. Question: Last year’s Women’s World Cup was in China and the U.S. has played numerous tournaments in China. Is there an advantage for the soccer teams heading to the Olympics since you have played in China so often compared to some other sports that might be competing there for the first time?
Hucles: It certainly makes your preparation easier. I think this is my fifth or sixth trip to China. Going there now, I know what to pack. I know what to expect in terms of food, in terms of air quality. Those are little things that can make a difference. I think it something our team doesn’t have to worry about as much because we have been through it so many times before. Question: Is the Olympic experience any different for you and your team, which gets to represent the United States 20-25 times a year, as compared to other athletes who may only represent their country once every four years at the Olympics?
Hucles: We might get a chance to wear the red, white, and blue more often, but it is still the Olympics, and that is a big event for us. You feel privileged any time you get to represent your country. Question: How important is it for you and your team to do well at these Olympics to help boost the profile of the sport in the United States just before the professional league returns next spring?
Hucles: I personally feel like it is very important. As competitors, we want to win no matter the situation. But this year, with WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) starting in the spring, being successful at the Olympics can only help. It will help the sport get some attention.