By Ed Benkin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The 2012 Olympics proved to be the tournament of redemption for Carli Lloyd and Heather Mitts.
Both players faced an uncertain future with the U.S. Women’s Soccer team prior to last month’s Olympics in London. However, both players returned home with gold medals after putting together an impressive run in the tournament.
Lloyd and Mitts stopped by KYW Newsradio and SportsRadio 94WIP on Wednesday. Lloyd, a Delran, New Jersey native, scored both goals in the gold medal game against Japan as she led the U.S. to a 2-1 victory. It capped off a memorable turnaround for Lloyd, who had lost her starting job before the start of the Olympics. The midfielder returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench to score a goal against France in the tournament opener, and emerged as one of the top players in the tournament.
“I didn’t understand why this was happening,” said Lloyd. “Being a professional athlete, anything can happen and not go your way sometimes, but it’s how you bounce back and how you persevere.”
Mitts also lost her starting job on defense and contemplated retirement before the Olympics. However, Mitts returned to the team for one last tournament and picked up her third gold medal.
“It was tough,” Mitt said. “It was so physically and mental draining. I had lost my starting job. I knew it was going to be extremely hard for me to come back and make the Olympic squad, but I pretty much decided I was going to give it one more shot.”
The Olympics also served as redemption for the entire U.S. squad, which lost to Japan in the World Cup Finals in 2011.
“We were prepared,” said Lloyd. “Obviously, we all felt horrible walking away after that World Cup Final against Japan. We know that there’s no guarantees anymore. The gap is being closed by so many teams.”
Lloyd still resides in the area and held a soccer camp when she returned from London. Lloyd said she was flattered by the attention given to her by so many future soccer stars and understands the impact she is making in their lives.
“We’re in the spotlight,” Lloyd said. “How I want to be perceived is being a good role model and showing kids how hard they need to work in order to fulfill their dreams. I got to do the camp a couple of weeks ago and it was just great.”
Lloyd and Mitts are heading across the country for a post-Olympic soccer tour. Lloyd is planning to be back at the Olympics in 2016, but Mitts says she is ready to become a soccer mom.
“That’s my reason for retiring,” said Mitts. “I still love the game and I’ve been so fortunate. I definitely want to start a family of my own.”
Listen to Ed Benkin’s interview with Lloyd and Mitts: