Hope Solo knows as well as anyone that playing through pain is a fact of life for any professional athlete. FIFA.com reports Solo is finally free of pain, and she has her sights set on winning Olympic gold this summer.
Her heroics in goal for the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup were the stuff of legend, and made her a crossover star. But few knew that she had undergone micro-fracture surgery to repair a fully torn labrum in her shoulder just nine months prior. It took a minor medical miracle for her to participate in the tournament.
"I had no business being on the field at the World Cup really," Solo said. "I was in a lot of pain. I took a lot of medicine which helped me get through day-to-day training."
The U.S. finished second in the World Cup, and Solo earned the Golden Glove (best goalkeeper) and Bronze Ball (third best player) awards for her efforts. A stint on Dancing with the Stars followed, where she and her partner made it to the semifinal round.
She got some much needed rest in the fall, before resuming training on her own. When the national team reconvened in December, Solo felt like a new player.
"Our training camp last December was a key point for me," she said. "Fifteen months after my operation [in September 2010] I began with my preparations for the Olympic Games.
"I'm learning to use my shoulder in a different way. No more drugs, less pain. My movements are different now. It's about getting to know my body again in the hope of being in a stronger position heading into the Olympics than I was for the World Cup."
Solo is not distracted by her newfound star power. The 30-year-old takes her role as a leader on the national team very seriously, and has two clear goals that will occupy her time over the next few years.
"I've yet to win the World Cup, but I intend to compete again in Canada in 2015," she said. "London 2012 is all about winning a medal. Not just any medal, the gold medal."
Photo via Facebook/HopeSolo