USC's Dawn Staley looks back at Olympic career - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

USC's Dawn Staley looks back at Olympic career

(Source: Gamecocksonline.com) (Source: Gamecocksonline.com)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Hitting the gym with a Hall of famer and three-time Olympian is inspiring and intimidating.

"If you and I would see two bugs crawling down this floor here, I want to pick the winner," said Dawn Staley, who is competitive about everything.

She's so serious.

"My competitiveness is the thing that drives me, I will say I am a sore loser but only because I feel like what I put in as far as preparation, I should win at everything that I do," Staley said.

And she usually does.

As one of the most decorated players in basketball history, recently enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Staley has a long list of impressive accomplishments.

One of her proudest moments will always be the opportunity to represent her country at the Olympic Games.

"When I was on the podium receiving my gold medal, that's when it all, I started thinking about my childhood, I started thinking about going up in the projects and how this little girl is receiving her gold medal," Staley said. "A lifelong dream, so many people doubted me, doubted my skill, doubted my height, doubted my ability and to be able to receive a gold medal while the entire world is watching, you know it was incredible."

It all started with a dream, but it took hard work and passion to make it happen.

"When you're competing at an elite level, an Olympic level, you're going to put your body through so much, through so much strain," Staley said.

There are no short cuts and it may hurt but it's worth it, Staley said.

"We have a tendency when we get tired to short change it, and you can't do that," Staley said. "You have to force your mind to do the technique the way it's supposed to be done or else you're going to short change it during a meaningful time in a basketball game or a meaningful time in a competition."

That drive for perfection put Staley on the podium for three gold medals. She gave the first one to her mom, who taught her to surround herself with positive people who are true believers.

"To only let people in who felt like, if I wasn't working out that day and I needed to work out," Staley said. "Dawn you need to go work out, you need your butt out there on the track, you need to go get 200-300 shots up, you need to go work on your handle because somebody out there is another point guard that waiting just waiting for you to fail so they can step in and take your spot."

Staley said the heart of an Olympian is prepared to persevere, knowing all the training, all the talent in the world won't matter if you aren't dedicated to your dream.

"A lot of times I feel like, as I look back on my life, something else didn't develop you know, because of my tunnel vision in my sport," Staley said. "I don't think I'm the most social person in the world, my social skills lack because I was so focused in some other areas and that part you can really work on like anything else but I wanted to be an Olympian, I wanted to be a gold medalist and I wasn't going to let friends, I wasn't going to let anything get in my way for my ultimate dream and my ultimate goal."

Just hanging out with coach in the gym I felt like that Olympic spirit started rubbing off on me too. I have a feeling her players feel the same way. Now that she has her Olympic gold, she sees herself as their dream merchant, putting them in a position to succeed in everything they do.

"To be Olympians, to be hall of famers and what we try to instill is discipline because I truly believe and they've heard me say this a number of times this is a quote that I live by, ‘The disciplined person can do anything,'" Staley said.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

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