realizing that you could compete professionally and go to an Olympic stage? DW: It came very late for me I guess! It was only when I qualified as an alternate for the Beijing Olympics that I even thought about it because people said that that would be my next step to go to the games and I would say, “you’re crazy.” But in the end it was like, if I wasn’t gunning for the Olympics then why the hell was I training so hard? For me it was the whole idea of wanting to be the best and doing something that I was good at and I loved it. I was never upset or felt forced that I was going to practice – I was excited. The losses were so personal for me that I would cry for hours and keep telling my mom that it would never happen again, but even though it did – I was just driven to it without having a goal. I just wanted to win and that was the first goal. But then when I was graduating highschool, I had some teachers that were like, “you know what’s next – the Olympics,” and I was like, “no my God, don’t push it.” But shortly after that, my coach was like you should start thinking about it and I thought, “wow I didn’t know that this was possible for me.” Once my coach and I kind of made a plan, it was up from there. AM: Your first trip to the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 was as an alternate, how did that affect 2012? DW: I qualified in 2008 as a replacement athlete and the only way that I was able to compete is if someone from my team got injured. That didn’t happen and they got the Bronze medal and because I never set foot on the actual playing field, I went home with nothing. I remember a lot of people were saying that that was as far as where I could potentially reach and what was I expecting and why I was so upset. They kind of wrote me off from ever being an actual Olympic athlete and I told my mom, "I was there for the experience and I saw how it was
and these next 4 years it will be different.” I made sure that I made a plan that was going to get me there as an actual competing athlete. So qualifying for the team for the Olympic Games in London 2012 was a highlight and so much more meaningful because of the people that said I couldn’t do it.
But in the end it was like, if I wasn't gunning for the Olympics then why the hell was I training so hard? For me it was the whole idea of wanting to be the best and doing something that I was good at and I loved it. AM: We know that you have a 4 year gap between each Summer Games. There are a number of championships and tournaments that you do in a given period of time to get onto the team for your sport (the process is different for each of the Olympic sports). What is that snapshot like for you in terms of qualifying when you are getting into the next Team USA as we’re looking for The Road to Tokyo 2020?
DW: Right so there are many sports that just went to one competition closer to Rio and it could be as soon as just a month out! But that’s just what they are used to and it’s a completely different stressful situation. For us, it’s a year long process so when we start the actual Olympic year, we go to about 10 International competitions where we compete and we get points based off of that. Because now, all the