Abby Wambach is a soccer player competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for the USA.

After missing the 2008 Olympics due to injury, Abby Wambach is set to once again lead the U.S. attack in London.

Wambach has long been one of the vocal leaders of the U.S. women on and off the pitch, but that leadership role became formalized early in 2012 as U.S. coach Pia Sundhage named Wambach a co-captain alongside defender and longtime captain Christie Rampone. It's a natural progression for the chatty Wambach, who's not shy about speaking up. "I'm a talker," Wambach said after being named co-captain. "I'll tell you how I feel at all times, and that's something that my teammates, I think, have pleasantly had to learn."

Wambach had a standout performance at the 2011 World Cup, leading the U.S. with four goals and an assist in six matches. Those number were good enough to earn her the Bronze Boot as the tournament's third-leading scorer and the Silver Ball as its second-best overall player, in addition the silver medal she received as a result of the Americans finishing as runners-up to Japan. She also came away from the tournament with an iconic goal, a header scored in stoppage time of the second extra time period in the quarterfinals against Brazil that forced the match to penalty kicks and kept the U.S.'s march to the final alive.



Any doubts about Wambach's ability to return to form became ancient history over the course of 2010 and 2011 as Wambach tallied 24 goals in 35 matches, re-establishing herself at the Americans' go-to goal scorer and continuing her march up the all-time women's soccer scoring ranks (she now sits second all-time, within 20 goals of Mia Hamm). For her efforts, she was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in both 2010 and 2011 and Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 2011, the first individual soccer player ever to receive the honor (the 1999 U.S. women's soccer team collectively won the award).

In just her second match after returning to the U.S. national team following a broken leg, Wambach scored her 100th international goal on July 18, 2009, in a friendly against Canada in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y. The goal made Wambach the fastest American ever to reach 100 goals, reaching the mark quicker than the other four American 100-goal scorers — Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Michelle Akers and Tiffeny Milbrett.

Wambach was lost for the 2008 Olympics following a collision in the U.S.'s final send-off match before Beijing. She broke both the tibia and the fibula of her left leg, an injury that will require approximately 12 weeks to heal. While she won't be able to suit up in Beijing, she shared these words with her teammates from her hospital bed: "I'm excited to watch them and cheer them on during this challenge they've been presented with. It's really going to take everyone coming together. I love them all so much, and appreciate so many people involved with this game and the team."

While the retirement of Hamm, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy allowed Wambach to become more of a leader for the U.S., it also allowed opponents to focus more on limiting the forward's touches. She welcomes the challenge. In the opening group match against the People's Republic of Korea at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in China, Wambach collided with Korean player Ri Kum-Suk and required eleven stitches to stop blood streaming from her forehead. The "surgery" was done in the locker room as play continued, and Wambach came back to help her team salvage a draw. It should not come as a surprise that she would like to compete in mountain biking if she had a choice of second sport.

Wambach was on the receiving end when the torch was passed in U.S. women's soccer at the 2004 Olympics. Athens marked the last time that the "91ers" — the quintet of celebrated players from the first U.S. women's World Cup championship team in 1991 (Hamm, Fawcett, Chastain, Foudy and Lilly) — played competitive matches together. It was Wambach who secured the gold when she headed an overtime corner kick into the back of the net against Brazil. One of the youngest players on the team — she was 24 in Athens — Wambach led the U.S. team with four goals. As the American standard-bearers of the sport moved on (with the exception of Lilly, who continued until 2007) to their post-soccer lives, they knew their national team was in good standing with Wambach at the fore.

Wambach's first splash with the national team came at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, held in the United States due to an outbreak of the SARS epidemic in original host nation China. She tallied three goals in that tournament, including the only goal in the 1-0 quarterfinal win against Norway, to lead the U.S. in that category. It was an impressive feat for a 23-year-old, playing alongside veterans Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy, and others. She was rewarded with the U.S. Soccer's Female Player of the Year at the end of the year.

In a decade with the national team, Wambach has emerged as its most reliable goal-scorer. It's a role she is used to fulfilling. At Our Lady of Mercy High School in Rochester, N.Y., she scored 142 goals in four years, including 34 in her senior year, after which she was named the 1997 national high school player of the year. In college, she left as Florida's career record-holder for goals (96), assists (49), points (241), game-winning goals (24) and hat tricks (10). That caught the eye of the national team, and led to Wambach being selected No. 2 overall by the Washington Freedom in the now-defunct WUSA. In her first year, she earned rookie of the year and all-star game MVP honors. In 2003, Wambach tied for the league lead with 33 points (13 goals, 7 assists) as she led the Freedom to the WUSA title. In the championship game, she scored both of her team's goals, the winner in sudden death overtime, and was named the MVP.

Wambach started playing organized soccer in Rochester, New York, at the age of 4. Very early on, her skill, athleticism and competitive fire distinguished her from her fellow players, and she was transferred from a girls team to a boys team. As the youngest of seven siblings (four brothers and two sisters), she says that her brothers never took it easy on her.




FACTS

How tall is she? How old is she? Find out here.

Age: 36 years old
Birthday: June 2, 1980
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 179 lbs.
Full Name / Real Name: Mary Abigail Wambach
Birthplace: Rochester, NY


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