Work in Sports
We gave it our best
Kristine Lilly is the all-time appearance leader and third all-time leading scorer for the U.S. Women's National Team. The midfielder from Wilton, Conn., was a member of the U.S. teams that won the 1999 World Cup and 1996 Olympic Games. Lilly also played on four national championship teams at the University of North Carolina. Lilly is training for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Check out Lilly's diary every month on CNNSI.com.
October 3, 2000
For the last couple of days I have been trying to figure out what I was going to say in my diary entry to all of you about the Olympic Games. There are so many different emotions that I have felt in the last two weeks, let alone the last year.
As I sit in my room in my dad's house, I look at the piles of clothes and gifts that I received during the Olympics, and then I look over to the other side of my room where hanging off a shelf is my silver medal.
I think to base the Olympic experience on the silver medal wouldn't do the Olympics justice. However, when you as an individual and as a team set a goal and you do not achieve it, you can't help but be disappointed.
Yes, I am disappointed that we didn't win a gold medal, but I am not disappointed about winning a silver. I am proud of myself and my team. I would be lying if I didn't say it hurts. It hurts a lot and for those of you who have lost a game or have lost something important to you, you know how that may feel. I also have learned if you focus too much on what you didn't do and not on what you did do, you will always be unhappy.
My team and I accomplished so much this year. We played in over 30 games, traveled all around the world, promoted the game we love, won many different tournaments, signed autographs, smiled, laughed, cried, celebrated, hugged, gave thanks, built friendships, played great soccer, had some not-so-good games, won, lost, tied, had injuries, changed coaches, traveled to Australia, played in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, represented our country, lived a dream, competed in the Olympic Games, witnessed the U.S. women's basketball team win a gold, watched the U.S. softball team get to the gold medal game and later win, watched our men's soccer team make it to the second round for the first time and then play for the bronze, had loving family and friends support us through it all, stood up on the podium and received our silver medals, and then appeared on The Today Show with Katie and Matt to let us know that we are still champions in their minds. Gold medalists we are not, but we are champions in our minds, our fans' minds and our families' minds.
The Olympic experience is one-of-a-kind time and a time where as an athlete you realize how patriotic you can be and how much you love being an American athlete. We attended the Opening Ceremonies after our first game and it was an amazing time. Even though it was my second, it was still a powerful moment.
Being among thousands of other athletes from all over the world was overwhelming. There is such a presence, that you have to take a step back and see what is around you -- greatness.
Marching into the arena, waving and trying to get on TV was the funniest and sweetest. Imagine people just appreciating you for walking into a room before you even said or did anything. It was great. It also was great to see athletes embrace the moment and smile and wave their nation's flags.
Then came the lighting of the torch. Cathy Freeman -- what an athlete and presence she was that night. I hope all of you got to see it on TV because I cannot do it justice writing about it. It was powerful.
First, the torch was brought into the arena and passed on by female athletes, so as a woman you appreciated that and realized how far we have come. Then Cathy lighting the torch and after a little malfunction, the torch rose up and up and up. It was one of the moments that will stick with me as one of my favorite moments. After the Opening Ceremonies we all felt the Olympic fever and then headed back to Melbourne.
I decided to run through some of the little things players did throughout the tournament and moments that you would enjoy. There are a lot, so I will pinpoint some that will be entertaining and enjoyable:
So basically we had some fun and enjoyed the whole experience. I know there is so much not said about the Olympics but to capture everything is impossible.
I do, however, want to say a couple more things about winning the silver medal. I think that as an athlete you know the feeling of winning and how good that feels and how easy it is to express that feeling. Unfortunately, as an athlete you also know the feeling of losing and how bad it feels and how hard it is not to express those feelings. Everyone says you have to learn how to handle winning and also how to handle losing. You can get used to winning, but you never get use to losing.
The loss in the gold medal game was a tough one. At one moment we are down 2-1 with seconds left and then Tiff scores in the last seconds of the game to tie and go into overtime. I never had a feeling that we were going to lose and as overtime went on I thought it was just a matter of time. Well, it was a matter of time but not our time.
When I saw the ball go in the back of our net, my heart sank. It was suddenly over and Norway had won. What were you feeling? everyone wants to know. Basically, you feel pain and you can't believe it. As I stood on the field staring into space I felt drained.
We had played a great game and not one of us gave up. So leaving the field I felt we gave it our best, and we gave all we had and it just wasn't our time. This is one reason I like playing with a team because you have each other. We shed some tears, embraced one another on the field and gave our wave to the crowd. As I looked up to my parents in the crowd, I began to cry. I saw my mom and dad wave and point to me and let me know that they were so proud.
As we walked out to the medal ceremony we gave our best smiles and waved to the crowd. We got to the podiums and waited as Norway received their gold medals and then it was our turn. As we stood before the podium with our hands united and stepped up on the stand tears filled my eyes.
We are proud to win a silver, and we raised our hands to the crowd to receive their applause. My team is amazing, and I wouldn't trade anything in the world for what I have experienced with these players. The way everyone handled the media and the loss was the same way we handled a win -- with class and a smile.
No one can take away what we have accomplished at the Olympics or the last 10 years. This team has raised awareness, brought soccer to the forefront and became heroes to many children and adults. We are not done and we will continue to turn faces and eyes to the game of soccer. The WUSA starts up next year, and people will continue to see what is so amazing about women's soccer.
To my teammates, thanks for a great year and for the memories. Carla, I can't put into words what you have meant to this team and to me. I will miss you as you retire from the national team. You are an amazing player and a leader beyond words. I know all of you Carla fans out there know what a great player she is, but she is a great person and a great friend as well. See you on soon enough. (This is what we always say in between breaks with the team).
PS: Jules, this one is for you: "We'll make them an offer they can't refuse."