Soccer

‘I feel stronger & fitter than before’ – USWNT star Alex Morgan raring to compete at Olympics after giving birth to first child

The Orlando Pride striker is determined to help her country win gold at the Tokyo Games, which are due to begin later this week

United States women’s national team star Alex Morgan is raring to compete at the Olympics after giving birth to her first child, claiming that she feels “stronger and fitter” than she did before falling pregnant.

Morgan has been included in Vlatko Andonovski’s 18-player roster for the Tokyo Games, which were originally postponed in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Orlando Pride striker benefitted from the delay as she welcomed her new daughter Charlie into the world a month later, and is now in peak condition ahead of the rearranged women’s football tournament, which is due to kick off on July 21.

What’s been said?

Morgan told FIFA.com of her excitement while expressing a desire to help her country repeat their gold medal heroics from the 2012 Olympics in London.

“I feel physically stronger and fitter than before I was pregnant,” she said. “It’s a strange thing and it’s hard to explain because I don’t necessarily feel I’ve put in more work in the gym or in training. But I do feel a change in my body, and it’s a change for the better.

“I feel very good right now. There are little things that I want to work on, but there are also things I’ve done well to improve on even from before getting pregnant.

“I’m in a very good place, both personally and with the team, and I’m looking forward to getting back to a major tournament after that huge success we had in 2019.

“It’s also been nine years since we made it to the top of the [Olympic] podium in 2012, so most of this team haven’t experienced success at this tournament. That’s an extra motivation.”

Who will the USWNT play in the group stage?

The USWNT have been drawn in Group G alongside Sweden, New Zealand and Australia.

Morgan and Co will open their campaign with a meeting against Sweden at the Tokyo Stadium on Wednesday night.

Andonovski’s side will play New Zealand three days later before wrapping up their pool schedule against Australia on July 27.

Morgan looking forward to Sweden test

Morgan hasn’t forgotten the heartbreak of the quarter-final penalty shootout loss to Sweden in Rio five years ago, and says the reigning world champions are relishing the prospect of another heavyweight clash against Peter Gerhardsson’s team. 

“It was devastating, especially knowing that it was the worst finish this team has ever had,” she said. “I probably didn’t fully take it in until weeks later because it was such a shock.

“Having said that, we seem to have played Sweden at pretty much every tournament I’ve been involved in and they always play well against us.

“They beat us in the group stage in 2011 and in the quarter-finals in 2016, and I always see them as one of the toughest teams we face on the world stage.

“We’re all really looking forward to playing against them again.”

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