Friday, 30 March 2012

Mia Hamm

Mia Hamm Biography 
Mia Hamm's brother recalls that she was extremely athletic even back then and that she would often compete with the other boys on the block in childhood games, often winning them. But earlier on, Mia Hamm had some problems with her legs, being born with a partial clubfoot. This meant that she had to wear casts on her feet to correct this problem but fortunately, the casts had a visible effect and young Mia Hamm would soon fully recover.
The fact that she had this problem might have triggered an ambition for athletics and sports on her part, even if subconsciously.
Throughout Mia Hamm's childhood, she had to move a lot, her father being in the Air Force. One time her and her family were in Italy and it is there that Mia saw exactly what soccer is about. The Italians' passion for soccer triggered an interest in soccer, when she was just 6 years old. Moving to Texas, she immediately picked up the sport and started playing for a local women's soccer youth club.
Mia Hamm Biography - Personal Info
Full name Mariel Margaret Hamm-Garciaparra
Date of birth 03-17-1972
Place of birth Selma, Alabama, USA
Height 5.5 ft 1.65 m
Playing position Forward
Mia Hamm Biography – Youth Career - Unlike most other players, male or female, that have to go through certain steps during their childhood, Mia Hamm's career had a jump start at an incredibly early age. With Mia dominating the youth competitions of women's soccer in Texas, it was only natural that she ended up in the spotlight of the United States national team staff. However, aged 14, she wasn't ready for that big of a leap yet.
One of the less known facts about Mia Hamm is that she also enjoyed playing and watching American football and this helped her later on in her soccer career, increasing her stamina, her constitution and combative spirit.
She would later be known in the world of women's soccer as a player shining out with these qualities, as well as a great off-the-ball ability and a heightened sense for goal. But we're a bit off track, so let's get back to when did Mia Hamm start playing soccer.
Mia Hamm Biography – Debut in the United States National Squad
Age 15, Mia Hamm moved to northern Virginia, where she would attend the Lake Braddock Secondary school, living with her uncle. She kept on playing soccer and one day, an impressive phone call got the young girl cheering throughout the house: she was called for the senior United States women's soccer team, becoming the youngest player ever to play for it.
Fortunately, she did have a good constitution that allowed her to physically withstand the rigors of senior professional soccer at that level and although she would not play much during her first few years in the squad, those times were crucial in her adaptation process.
By the time she was 17, she already felt right at home in the United States squad and managed to score her first goal for the team, in a match against neighbors Canada.
Mia Hamm Biography – University of North Carolina
After finishing high school, Mia Hamm was already on her way to success being now constantly called up to the national team and started playing regularly. However, she chose to follow a University as well, settling for the UNC, the University of North Carolina.
She began playing for the University's women soccer team, the Tar Heels, and lead them to a string of four straight national titles, in addition to being the team and the league's all time top scorer.
Mia Hamm Biography - Championships
Year Team Chamionship
1989 UNC NCAA National Champion
1990 UNC NCAA National Champion
1991 USA Women's National Team FIFA World Cup Champion
1992 UNC NCAA National Champion
1993 UNC NCAA National Champion
1995 USA Women's National Team FIFA World Cup Third Place
1996 USA Women's National Team Olympic Gold
1999 USA Women's National Team FIFA World Cup Champion
2000 USA Women's National Team Olympic Silver
2003 Washington Freedom WUSA Founder's Cup Champion
2003 USA Women's National Team FIFA World Cup Third Place
2004 USA Women's National Team Olympic Gold
Mia Hamm Biography – 1991 World Cup - In 1991, she put her time with the University of North Carolina on hold for a while, being called for her first World Cup, held in China. The United States team was put in a tough group against Brazil, Japan and Sweden. Although Japan was not a force in women's soccer at that time, Brazil and Sweden were.
In their first match against Sweden, Mia Hamm managed a crucial 62 minute goal that would prove to be decisive, as the USA team won 3-2. Their next match, against Brazil saw a rampant United States Team with Mia Hamm and Heinrichs as the MVP's of the match, smashing Brazil 5-0. In the last group match, against Japan, the United States women's soccer team went past Japan with an easy 3-0 win.
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In the quarterfinals, played against the Chinese Taipei, Mia Hamm was outshined by Michelle Akers, who scored no less than 4 goals that match in what was going to be one of the biggest wins of the tournament: 7-0.
The semi finals drew Hamm's team against the toughest possible opposition, Germany, who had developed women's soccer for quite some time at that point. However, the United States team proved to be more than the Germans could handle, as they went 5-2 past them.
The final saw the United States team's close win against Norway, 2-1 and Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers and the rest of the squad's components lift the first Women's World Cup above their heads in what was going to be a legendary moment.
All in all, despite the fact that Hamm's contribution was not as decisive at this World Cup, she did stand out in a few matches, given that she was still fresh in the international women's soccer circuit.
Mia Hamm Biography – 1992 - 1998 World Cup
Coming back to the UNC, Mia Hamm was greeted as a hero and was soon given the nickname "Jordan", as a reference to another North Carolina athlete of international fame, Michael Jordan. By that time, Mia Hamm, a soccer player that started out in a small Texas youth club, was already a World Champion at age 20 and had a glorious career in front of her.
When she finished studying at the University, Hamm focused solely on the US national squad, participating in the 1995 World Cup, where the United States ended up third. A moment bound to be remembered from that World Cup was when Mia Hamm went on to play as a goalkeeper, with no one left to play on this position. Despite the United States losing the title and the final, Mia Hamm was voted the Most Valuable Player of the World Cup.
One year later, at the 1996 Olympic Games, Hamm suffered an ankle injury that kept her off the pitch for a match, but she was able to recover for the final, played against China. Hamm contributed decisively to the winning goal, her shot coming off the bar, only to be plunged back in the net by Shannon MacMillan and the United States hanged another Gold Medal around the necks of its players.
Mia Hamm Biography – 1999 World Cup
Months before the World Cup started, Mia Hamm had already broken the record for most international goals scored by a male or female soccer player, hitting the net for the 108th time in a match against Brazil. The number 9 Mia Hamm jersey began selling like donuts on a police parade and the United States team went on to play in the World Cup certain of victory, with a Mia Hamm in top form.
Coming out on top from a group A with Nigeria, Korea and Denmark, the United States had an impressive goal difference of +12 in the 3 matches, Hamm scoring 2 of the goals.
Unlucky in the quarter final draw again, the US team went on to face Germany in a dramatic match that saw Brandi Chastain score an own goal in the 5th minute to put the Germans on a 1-0 lead, only to score again for 2-1 in the second half (Milbrett had equalized for the US prior to that).
The match ended 3-2 for the US women's soccer squad and they were through to the semi-finals where they had an easier 2-0 win against Brazil. The final played on Rose Bowl in front of 90,000 spectators, against a tough China team, was one of the most dramatic in the history of women's soccer.
0-0 after extra time, the match went on to a penalty shootout, where Hamm scored the 4th of the United States' 5 goals. Only one miss from the Chinese players meant the second trophy went to Hamm and her colleagues once more.
Mia Hamm Biography- Accomplishments
Mia Hamm's 17 years with the United States squad brought her a lot of trophies and succeses, including 2 World Cups (1991, 1999), 2 World Cup bronze medals (1995, 2003), 2 Olympic Gold Medals (Atlanta 1996, Athens 2004) and a Silver medal (Sydney 2000).
She also won the FIFA Women's Soccer Player of the Year twice, in 2001 and 2002. she would have probably won a lot more, but the award was only instituted in 2001. Most importantly, she currently holds the record for most international goals scored by a player, male or female, with an impressive tally of 158.
Last but not least, she was one of the only 2 women named on Pele's "125 Best Soccer Players of All Times", next to USA national team colleague Michelle Akers.
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