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Wednesday, Oct. 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's soccer

Olympic dream made reality

She was the first IU women’s soccer player to participate in the Olympics, and she was part of Colombia’s first women’s soccer team to make it to the Games.       

Senior forward Orianica Velasquez found one word to describe her London 2012 Summer Olympic Games experience: “Wow.”

“For me, it was an honor to represent my country in its first Olympics,” Velasquez said. “It was just a great experience for us.”

Velasquez played for the regional squad in Bogotá in her early years, and in 2004, the coach of Colombia’s national team took notice.

Velasquez was selected to play, and the team qualified for both the World Cup and the Olympics following a second-place finish in a tournament in Ecuador.

Since being at IU, playing in the Olympics had always been a personal goal of hers, IU Coach Mick Lyon said.

So, when he found out Velasquez would be going, he was delighted.  

“My initial reaction was just pure joy,” Lyon said.

“I was just so excited for her, and I know that she was excited as well.”
Two months before the games, Colombia’s training began.

Velasquez said it was an intense experience, as they had to cram fitness and strategic planning into such a short period of time.

Overall, though, she said it was a good one.

But in Colombia’s Olympic debut against North Korea, the team failed to find its footing, losing 2-0.

Losses to both the United States and France ended Colombia’s chances.

Lyon, who flew to Glasgow, Scotland, to watch Velasquez’s first two games, said he could sense her excitement leading up to each match.

He said he was impressed with her play despite the losses.   

“It was just absolutely fantastic to be there and watch her stand for the anthems and be involved in the whole process,” Lyon said.

Colombia left the games with an 0-3 record, but the team maintained a sense of pride and achieved a first for the county, Velasquez said.   

“We didn’t get the results — we didn’t win or score goals,” Velasquez said.

“But I think you need to look beyond that. You can see there are many good things to take away from it.”

Despite recognizing countless Colombian supporters and achieving somewhat of a celebrity status in her home nation, Velasquez said she heard several negative comments about the team’s play.

This was to be expected, she said, but considering the team trained for two months compared to other squads training for six months or more, she is proud of what she and her teammates did.

“It was pretty hard to hear of those bad comments about how we did,” Velasquez said.

“But in the end, it’s good. Colombia qualified for the Olympics for the first time, and I think we did our best.”

The support of her IU teammates and coach meant a great deal to her as well, she said.

“I was so grateful for the University,” Velasquez said. “And of course, I was representing IU, too.”    

Now, with IU’s season underway and her last year for the team, Velasquez said she plans to work hard, do her best and hopefully live up to any expectations.  

“I guess I have a huge responsibility here since I played in the Olympics,” she said.
“No one has to tell you, but I think everyone just expects more from you.”

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