Her stellar work as keeper for the U.S. team in the Vancouver qualifier has punched the UW grad’s ticket to London, where she will seek a rare second Olympic gold this summer.
By recording consecutive shutouts for the U.S. Women’s Soccer team — 3-0 over Costa Rica Friday and 4-0 over Canada Sunday — in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament at B.C. Place in Vancouver, former University of Washington goalkeeper Hope Solo has put herself in position to do something few athletes in state history have managed: become a multiple gold medalist in the Summer Olympic Games.
Gimpy with a sore right quad muscle that made her availability an open question 24 hours prior to facing Costa Rica, the Richland native nevertheless made several spectacular saves, including one off a partial breakaway where she raced out at just the right moment to block an attacker’s shot.
American coach Pia Sundhage said after the Costa Rica match that Solo’s world-class play gave the U.S. a crucial edge.
“We have Hope Solo,” Sundhage remarked. “No other country in the world has Hope Solo.”
Against Canada Sunday, Solo made six saves and completed the five-game CONCACAF qualifying tournament with five shutouts as the U.S. outscored its opponents by a combined 38-0. Four of the saves occurred in the first half.
“That’s the very reason why Hope Solo is on this team and that’s why she’s the number one goalkeeper in the world, in my opinion,” said Sundhage. “When called upon, she makes the big saves and she goes into serious confrontations with forwards on other teams. I’m proud of her for sticking on the field and staying in the starting lineup.”
Solo, 30, who starrred at UW from 1999-02, has been the starting goalkeeper for the national team since 2005. An Olympic alternate in 2004, when the Summer Games were held in Athens, Solo started every Olympic match in Beijing and earned a goal medal when the U.S. defeated Brazil in the final. Solo was voted player of the match.
Barring further injury, Solo will start in goal when the national team plays in the 2012 Summer Games in London. She is the first athlete native to the state to secure a 2012 Olympic appearance.
Eight athletes from Washington have won multiple gold medals, and only four of them in back-to-back Olympics. They are listed by order of accomplishment:
HELENE MADISON, swimming, Los Angeles, 1932 (3 golds): During a 16 ½-month period in 1930-31, Madison broke 16 swimming world records at distances from 100 yards to one mile. During the Games, she won the 100-meter freestyle, anchored the U.S. team to victory in the 4×100 freestyle relay and captured a third gold in the 400-meter freestyle. After winning her third gold, Madison celebrated by dancing at the Coconut Grove with Clark Gable. When she returned home to Seattle, Madison received a ticker-tape parade that drew a crowd estimated at 175,000.
RICHARD WAILES, rowing, Melbourne, 1956; Rome, 1960 (2): A Washington native and Yale graduate, Wailes captured a gold medal in the USAs eight-oared boat in 1956 and returned to Rome in 1960 to earn another gold in fours. He is a member of the Rowing Hall of Fame and the Yale Athletic Hall of Fame twice. Wailes was inducted as a member of the 1956 Yale University crew and as an individual athlete.
KAYE MARIE HALL, swimming, Mexico City, 1968 (2): Hall earned two gold medals (100 backstroke, 400 medley relay) and a bronze (200 backstroke). Her 1:06.2 clocking in the 100 backstroke set a world record. Once a holder of six American records, the Tacoman was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1979.
TRACIE RUIZ, synchronized swimming, Los Angeles, 1984 (2): A native of Hawaii, a graduate of Arizona State and a longtime Seattle-area resident, Ruiz won the solo gold medal in synchronized swimming and teamed with Candie Costie to win another gold in duet. Ruiz captured a silver medal in the solo event at Seoul in 1988. Ruiz won three gold medals at the Pan American Games (two in solo) from 1983 to 1987, is one of just three athletes to win four consecutive national championships, and is the only athlete to win six solo national titles. The International Swimming Hall of Fame named her the Synchronized Swimmer of the Century in 2001.
DAVID SAUNDERS, volleyball, Los Angeles, 1984; Seoul, 1988 (2): Born in Seattle, Saunders attended UCLA, where he was a teammate of volleyball legend Karch Kiraly.
GAIL DEVERS, track and field, Barcelona, 1992; Atlanta, 1996 (2): Less than 17 months after doctors told her they would probably have to amputate both of her feet due to the ravages of Graves disease (chronic thyroid disorder), the Seattle-born Devers won the 100-meter race at the Barcelona Olympics. In Atlanta four years later, Devers again won the 100, becoming just the second woman to win the 100 at consecutive Olympics. She competed in Athens as both a sprinter and a hurdler, but did not medal.
JOHN STOCKTON, basketball, Barcelona, 1992; Atlanta, 1996: A Spokane native, the former Gonzaga star and member of the Utah Jazz won gold medals in both Olympics as part of the USAs Dream Team. In 1996, Stockton was selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. He played his entire NBA career with the Jazz, retiring as the career leader in assists (he had five of the top six assists seasons in NBA history) and steals.
MEGAN QUANN, swimming, Sydney, 2000 (2): The Puyallup resident, who didn’tf qualify for the Athens Olympics, earned a gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke in Sydney by clocking 1:07:05. She added another gold as a member of the 4×100 medley relay team.
Three athletes with significant ties to the state also have a chance to add to their gold-medal hauls in London: soccer midfielder Stephanie Cox, a Gig Harbor resident and a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team; Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, who has won two Olympic gold medals; and swimmer Nathan Adrian from Bremerton.