Women's soccer player checks in from Colombia before XXX Olympiad | UToledo News

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Women’s soccer player checks in from Colombia before XXX Olympiad

UT women’s soccer player and Bogota, Colombia, native Natalia Gaitàn is a little over two weeks away from representing her home country in the XXX Olympiad in London. It will be the first-ever Olympic appearance for Gaitàn and the Colombia women’s soccer team.

Gaitàn

Gaitàn, who will be a senior this fall, is one of four NCAA Division I student-athletes on the Colombia national team roster, which includes Austin Peay’s Tatiana Ariza, Indiana’s Orianica Velasquez and Kansas’ Liana Salazar.

Colombia, which will field one of 12 women’s soccer teams in the Olympics, qualified for this summer’s showcase event by reaching the finals of the 2010 South American Women’s Soccer Championships in Gaitàn’s hometown.

Due to an intense schedule, the soccer competition actually kicks off two days before the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony with the first group matches Wednesday, July 25. The competition will begin with a group stage. The teams will be divided into groups of four, and the best eight teams will qualify for the quarterfinals. From there, the competitions are a knockout format: The two winning semifinalists will play for the gold medal at Wembley Stadium, with the two losing semifinalists facing off for the bronze.

Gaitàn recently had a few moments of free time in between training sessions and wrote this for utrockets.com:

Our team started its third and final week of camp last week, and we traveled to Switzerland Thursday, July 5, before heading to Glasgow. In Switzerland, we played four friendly matches against Canada, Cameroon, Brazil and New Zealand, all teams that qualified for the Olympics.

Following those friendly contests, we will make our way to Glasgow, where we will play our first two Group G matches against North Korea (July 25) and the United States (July 28) in Hampden Park (52,103 capacity), before traveling to Newcastle to play France (July 31) in St. James’ Park (52,387 capacity).

Although I haven’t been home much since arriving back in Colombia, it has been great to be in my city and country. I’ve had the chance to see my family almost twice a week, and the team is my family at this moment. Practices have been really hard, as we have run a lot and I just can’t wait to play with those games.

It’s going to be amazing to get to Glasgow and live all the experiences of the Olympics. A couple of weeks ago, a Colombian athlete that is going to compete in his third Olympics came and talked to us about his experience. It was amazing to hear about his journey, and we all started to imagine how things are going to be over there. For sure, this is something I will never forget, and I hope we can do a very good job as a team.

Something new is that we have had a lot of media contact with TV stations, newspapers, interviews and events. We all have done that for these past two months, and we love that the country knows where we are going and that they cheer for us. Besides this, not much has happened over here. Our life is to sleep, eat and play soccer.

Check with utrockets.com later this month for additional updates from Gaitàn in London.

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