Heather O’Reilly, of HBS intramural fame, is the wife of Dave Werry (OE). She’s also a three-time gold medalist on the US Olympic women’s soccer team. HAO, as she is know by her teammates, made the game-changing assist to win the semi-final against Canada. The Harbus asked Heather to share her incredible summer experience with the HBS community.
My carry-on bag was a little heavier coming home from London than on my way over. But for once, I wasn’t complaining. After years of training and preparation, we are extremely proud as a team to be able to call ourselves Olympic gold medalists! And even though this was my third Olympics and third gold medal, gold definitely never gets old.
If you weren’t able to watch many of the women’s soccer games at the Olympics, I’ll fill you in. After beating France, Colombia, and North Korea in our group games, we made it to the quarterfinals where we took care of business against New Zealand with a 2-0 win.
Then the real drama began. We faced Canada in the semifinal. Our seemingly friendly northern neighbor has become a serious rival in the women’s soccer world. They are a tough, physical team and have a real desire to beat the US, naturally.
In one of the most exciting women’s soccer games perhaps ever, we were able to beat Canada 4-3 with only a few seconds left in overtime. I think everyone, including my husband and biggest supporter, Dave Werry (OE), has a few more grey hairs after that game.
That led us into the final, which was pegged the “Redemption Match” because we faced Japan, who beat us last year in the Women’s World Cup final in penalty kicks. This time, however, we were able to get the result that we wanted with a 2-1 victory.
The London Olympics were special for me and different from the 2004 and 2008 experiences because we got to play in some very historic venues around the UK. As a Manchester United fan, it really was a dream come true to be able to play two matches in Old Trafford. And the finals were in a packed Wembley Stadium, one of the most famous stadiums in the world. After the match at Wembley, the medal ceremony took place on the field. With the theme song from Chariots of Fire playing in the background, I don’t think there was a dry eye on the team!
There was also a ton of HBS love at the Olympics which was truly amazing. So many people from OE came from around the world to support me at these Games which made it even more special (thanks Nick, Nadia, Mariko, Hayk, and Tom!). And coincidentally the person that put the gold medal around my neck on the podium was none other than Angela Ruggiero, former USA Hockey star, IOC member, fellow gold medalist, and new HBS student (NA)!
With the Olympics behind me, I now need to look ahead to future goals – section intramurals! Oh yeah, and Rio in 2016!