Olympics Photo of the Day

Monday, June 8, 2009


Women's football pioneer

The most dominant women's football player of the 1990s, Mia Hamm joined the U.S. national team at the age of 15 and scored her first international goal (against Norway) at 18. In 1991, she was a member of U.S. team that won the Women's World Cup. At the 1995 World Cup, the Americans placed third, but Hamm, who even filled in at goalie in one match, was voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player. At the inaugural women's Olympic football tournament in 1996, Hamm sprained her left ankle in an early match, but skipped only one game. In the final against China, which was played before a crowd of 76,481, Hamm slammed a hard shot that Chinese goalie Gao Hong deflected into the post. Shannon MacMillan collected the rebound and scored the match's first goal. The United States went on to win 2-1. Hamm's ankle was still so sore that she was unable to join her teammates in the post-match victory lap around the field. On March 22, 1999, in a match against Brazil, Hamm scored her 108th international goal to break the career record previously held by Elisabetta Vignotto of Italy. Later that year, Hamm led the U.S. team to victory in the Women's World Cup. The final went to penalty shootout. Hamm did not want to take part, but she was chosen anyway and made the fourth of five goals that won the Americans the title. At the 2000 Olympics, Hamm helped the United States to qualify for the final by scoring the only goal in their semifinal victory over Brazil. The U.S. lost the final to Norway in overtime, but Hamm's play has continued to inspire young players around the world. At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, Mia Hamm and the American team won the gold medal, beating the Brazilian team 2-1 after extra time.