Women’s Olympic Football Tournament
09 Aug 2020
- Christie Pearce Rampone holds record for most medals in Olympic football history
- She chats with FIFA.com about her stand-out memories from each tournament
- Be All In, a book she has co-written, will be available this month
Christie Pearce Rampone stands alone at the top of the all-time medals podium in Olympic Football Tournament history – men’s or women’s – with four. Throughout a highly-decorated career, the USA defender won three gold medals (2004, 2008 and 2012) and one silver (2000). In every edition she competed in, she won a medal.
It was on this day, 9 August, that, at 37 years and 46 days, she became the oldest player in Women’s Olympic Football Tournament history to seize gold. USA defeated Japan at the London 2012 decider, one year after their crushing disappointment in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ Final, when they lost to the same opponent on penalties.
FIFA.com caught up with her, in the middle of a virtual tour of sorts to promote her upcoming book called Be All In, to get her reflections on each edition.
Sydney 2000: The ‘Aha’ moment
“In 2000, for me it was the ‘Aha’ moment. To be an Olympian and just to get there… I was fortunate enough to attend the opening ceremony, which changed my whole perspective on Olympic athletes. I remember seeing any Olympic ring and thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m here.’
“I embraced the whole journey. I thought the team did exceptional in that Olympics. Unfortunately we fell short, but we won a silver medal! I’ll never forget being inspired by a lot of the players and watching Tiffeny Milbrett shine. She was the shortest person on the field and she rose and put that header in at the end and allowed us to get to extra time, where we unfortunately lost early on to the golden goal. All of those emotions encompassed the journey thereafter: the emotion of defeat, and knowing you didn’t want to feel that again and realising what you could learn from it, set the tone for me of wanting to be something better.”
Athens 2004: Perfect send-off for pioneers
“That was all about sending the pioneers – players like Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett – off in the right way. I knew I was playing for something bigger than a gold medal. These girls paved the way for me to have the opportunity to play and it was like silencing when you were playing. You could just feel the energy. The look in each other’s eyes said, ‘No matter what happens, we’re doing this for these players’. It was more about that team effort. No matter what happened I was throwing my body on the line and doing anything to come out with a gold medal for these girls.
“That final against Brazil was extremely tough! I remember the goal post saved us a couple of times, Bri [Brianna Scurry] was tremendous in goal and it was that fitting finale. In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Brazil was such a great team and we were able to pull it off and send them off on the right path in the way they should be leaving the game.”
Beijing 2008: Victory through adversity
“It was such an interesting tournament. Losing such an impactful player just before the Games when Abby [Wambach] broke her leg, that was totally devastating, not only because she was a great player but she was my go-to, she was my rock and the person I always looked up to in times of need, so that was also mentally tough. I remember the way we started that tournament was not who we truly were. Everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong in that game against Norway. The media counted us out. That was the first time we felt that we were not looked at like we were going to win this. That hit us hard.
“I respect that team because it really didn’t have a household name. We slowly got better and better each and every game. We wrote our own script. The four forwards that took Abby’s place stepped up. Carli Lloyd was amazing in that tournament, Angela Hucles, Amy Rodriguez and Natasha Kai really stepped up and helped lead the team to that victory. We were so fortunate to have Pia [Sundhage] as a new coach with her energy which made us appreciate the game even more.
“Also being a mother of two at that point and being able to make it back after having two children and leading the team as captain, it was the icing on the cake for everything I put into the sport. It’s surreal. You almost forget what you did at that moment when the final whistle blew.”
London 2012: Dream ending
“It was more of an emotional one because I knew it was going to be my last. We started in Scotland and made our way to Wembley. My family’s from Scotland and my great-grandfather played goalkeeper for ten years in Scotland, so we have the defensive side together. I was kind of like their hometown hero as it was where my roots are from and they recognised that and supported me, so that was pretty cool.
“Every little moment meant a little bit more. The semi-final win against Canada was more of a basketball game than a soccer game … who’s going to score once they cross half-field? Winning 4-3 with Alex Morgan stepping up, it was amazing to see a young player do her thing.
“That final whistle … I’ll never forget that sound. We won in Wembley Stadium in front of a huge crowd where a lot of females don’t get to play on that field. London 2012 was more mentally challenging than physically. We were playing Japan again in a final after losing a gut-wrenching Women’s World Cup Final the year before. Pulling it off was pretty amazing and pretty special.
“When you reflect back on each tournament it’s important to remember that they weren’t just handed to us. There was always something we had to get through, mentally or physically. It wasn’t all smooth-sailing like everyone thinks it was. It sinks in now.”
Olympic village experience
“Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, you were in the Olympics you get to go to the Olympic village’, but we had to earn our way to the Olympic village. We didn’t reach the village until we reached the final. To experience it completely, we had to get all the way through to enjoy it. When you walk in there, it’s very hard to compete because there are so many distractions! There’s nothing like sitting in the meal room and people-watching and being in awe of the power in that room. I always gave athletes space. The guessing game of figuring our what sport each person played was fun. Everyone’s in that zone. The best part was watching who was going to McDonald’s at the end because you knew they were done competing!”
Be All In is co-written by Christie Pearce Rampone and Dr. Kristine Keane and is published by The Hachette Book Group. It’s out on 18 August and is available to pre-order.