Portland’s own Kimberly Hill is one of the best to ever do it for the U.S., having represented her country since 2013 and accumulating a litany of medals. Most recently she was on the volleyball team that won gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
That win signified just how far U.S. volleyball has come. Having finished as runner-ups in the last three Olympics.
Although the manner was a little different with it coming in the middle of a pandemic.
In a recent interview with NBCSNW, Hill compared the 2016 and 2020 Olympics and delved into much more.
“They were pretty different,” Hill said. “We definitely missed the element of the crowd. It was a big factor. Of course, not being able to leave the village. Last time we were able to see friends and family and go to the Team USA house and do all these fun things. This Olympics was pretty much laser-focused. You went from competition to the village and back and training and that was it. It was different but still special in some way.”
Many Olympians have discussed how the lack of fans was a downer at the peak of their competition. Although it led to more focus, especially given there was a lack of freedom to explore the host city.
Whatever it was led to USA volleyball winning their first gold. Such a historic moment was followed by great elation.
“After we won, the whole team was on the ground,” she said. “It’s because there was like sobbing and then this moment of kind of sense where everyone’s looking at each like, ‘we freaking did it.’ There was like a second and a half where it felt like it was just us 12 in this bubble. It was a super special feeling and I’ll never forget it. Of course on the podium when they played the national anthem -- that was super special and probably the most special moment of my life.”
Even a few weeks removed from the momentous occasion, Hill still has a feeling that the moment “doesn’t feel real.”
Winning a gold medal followed by retiring is the ideal way for any athlete to depart.
“Finish on top and kind of go out,” Hill said.
Catch the entire interview with Kim Hill on The Bridge on NBCSNW, Monday, Aug. 30 at 6p.m. PT.