Olympics

3-time Soccer Olympic Gold medalist Shannon Boxx took a different path to the Olympics

/ by Jamie Hudson
Presented By Toyota
Olympics

Three-time Olympic gold medalist in soccer, Shannon Boxx, recalls her path to the US Olympic team as pretty different than most.

As an American retired defensive midfielder and former member of the United States women's national soccer team, Boxx explained that it was her older sister who inspired her to strive for gold.

Boxx’s sister, Gillian, won a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics with the US softball team.

“My sister played in the 1996 Olympics for softball and right then and there, I was like, ‘I could do this. I could do this in my own sport.’ But I was far from it.”

I wasn’t the No. 1 player, but I just kept fighting for it. I wanted to play. I wanted to go to the Olympics. I wanted to go to the National Team.

Shannon Boxx

But, of course, it wasn’t an easy road.

“There were definitely places when I failed,” Boxx explained. “And last minute, I just kind of made the team in 2003 for the World Cup. I was the last person picked.” 

However, the now 44-year-old quickly became a starter and a star.

 

“I definitely go back to the effort that I gave. Every time that I failed, I didn’t give up. I kept fighting.”

Boxx won gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics, 2008 Beijing Olympics, and 2012 London Olympics.

She was diagnosed with lupus in 2007 when she was 30 years old.

Yet, the Olympian didn’t go public with her diagnosis until right before the 2012 London Olympics.

“I would say my biggest challenge for myself was going through my illness,” Boxx said. “I have lupus. When I found that out -- keeping it a secret, dealing with it on my own, playing at the highest level and knowing I wasn’t feeling that great every day.” 

Wondering -- is a flare up going to come on the most important day, a gold medal game? -- I think that was my biggest challenge.

 Shannon Boxx

“The day that I finally opened up to the public, the day that I opened up to my teammates saved my life and it really saved my career. I felt I had a greater responsibility to, one, let the public know what lupus is, and two… that people who have lupus, ‘yes, you’re going to have bad days, but can you maybe feel good… can you go do and live your life even though you have a disease like this.’”

Boxx has inspired many around the world with her work both on and off the field. 

She last played for the Chicago Red Stars from 2013 to 2015.