London Spotlight (USA Today Sports)
July 10, 2012

As part of USA TODAY Sports’ “100 Olympic hopefuls in 100 Days” series, prospective U.S. Olympians give their thoughts on the Games in their own words.

Five years ago, it took not one, but two consecutive tears of the same ACL to teach U.S. women’s soccer midfielder Megan Rapinoe a valuable lesson: Slow down.

The first injury, suffered in 2006 as a collegian at the University of Portland, threatened her new place on the national team. The second one, suffered in 2007, all but ended it, and ruled her out for the Beijing Games.

“I may have rushed back a little bit faster than I should have after the first ACL,” says Rapinoe, 27. “Not to say that was the reason that it happened again, but the second one humbled me a bit in a lot of ways.

“I took my time and really allowed my body to heal and be as strong as possible.”

Rare is the athlete who has a second chance at gold in the Olympics, an honor the U.S. team claimed without her four years ago. The U.S. women open the Olympic tournament against France on July 25 — two days before the opening ceremony.

Rapinoe has 52 caps (international appearances) and is using her celebrity to make a difference. Rapinoe announced publicly that she is gay last week and hopes her confidence inspires others.