Alex Morgan Reminisces on Olympic Glory

alex morgan olympic reflection

The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will come to an end Sunday. The Closing Ceremony offers one final moment for athletes to represent their nation and celebrate their achievements.

Orlando Pride and U.S. Women’s National Team star Alex Morgan knows the feeling.

“The Closing Ceremony was really such a great moment for us to be able to show off our gold medal and be a part of the true Team USA,” Morgan said of the 2012 London Games, where she and the U.S. women took home gold with six wins in six games.

Walking into Olympic Stadium was particularly sweet not just because of the weight of her gold medal, but because soccer players don’t get to participate in the Opening Ceremony. Morgan and her teammates were in Glasgow, Scotland, preparing for the next day’s match against Colombia.

“We pretty much just put on our outfits that everyone else wore from Team USA and walked around the hotel and had our own mini opening ceremony,” Morgan said.

Moments like those made the 2012 Games extra special for Morgan because they gave the team an opportunity to feel the pageantry of the Olympics that they couldn’t always appreciate. It’s hard to soak it all in when you’re playing six games in 15 days and chasing gold.

“Having come off the disappointment from the 2011 World Cup, we wanted to prove ourselves on the highest stage,” Morgan said.

Prove themselves they did. Morgan scored two goals to help knock off France in the opener, and then the unforgettable stoppage-time-of-extra-time winner against Canada to send the U.S. to the Gold Medal Game. Then the U.S. avenged their World Cup disappointment with a 2-1 win over Japan for their third consecutive Olympic championship.

“I vividly remember walking up on the podium together, hand in hand with my teammates,” Morgan said. “That to me was just such an incredible moment because you don’t realize how many people are watching you and supporting you and how this was years in the making.

“When the gold medal is draped around your neck and you’re so loudly singing national anthem with your teammates, it’s a moment that I wish I could relive over and over. It happens to very few Olympians. I feel very fortunate to be one of those.”

Four years later in Rio, there would be no such moment for the U.S. women’s soccer team. A quarterfinal exit cost them their chance to defend their title. Though the disappointment hurt, it gave them a chance to enjoy the rest of the Olympics.

“We got to see Michael Phelps win his last gold medal. It was incredible to be a part of that and support such a decorated Olympian. I also got to go to a couple other events, like beach volleyball,” Morgan said. “As disappointing as it was for us to exit early, it actually made it all worth it by staying in Rio to be able to support our fellow Team USA Olympians.”

And even though she wasn’t in South Korea for the Winter Games, Morgan kept a close eye on Team USA. She said she’s been watching the Skeleton - the head-first downhill sled race - and called it “the most daredevil event in the Olympics”. Morgan watched Lindsey Vonn win bronze in the downhill and was thrilled when the U.S. women’s hockey team won gold.

Morgan’s favorite off-the-pitch moment came during the Closing Ceremony in 2012 when she saw the Spice Girls perform live with all her teammates.

“Seeing them perform on stage and being front row, my teammates and I were singing along,” Morgan said. “It was really fun to be with my teammates and, really, my best friends and feel like we had a show put on just for us. That was a really exciting moment that I’ll remember forever.”