(Press Conference) Olivia Smoliga Emotional After Beating “Number One Idol” Natalie Coughlin

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Photo Courtesy: Brian Honicky

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It was an emotional and enthusiastic night three press conference with 100 backstroke Olympic qualifier Olivia Smoliga at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Smoliga starts the conference by talking about her dual love of freestyle and backstroke, but that the 100 backstroke – what she will be representing the United States in in Rio – is her “baby.” On this note, Smoliga moves into a very personal recap of her emotions throughout the day, including her feelings and thoughts after an earlier disqualification scare.

Smoliga says that throughout her 100 backstroke race, she was determined to not focus on the time, but rather focus on racing the girls next to her. She says that it was “such a fun race.” Smoliga also discusses how important it was to know that her teammates were cheering her on from the sidelines, and that their support is what fuels her. Later in the conference, she calls her teammates the “best in the world.”

Smoliga gets emotional when the talk turns to her competitors in the final heat. She talks about growing up watching twelve-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin, and especially remembering Coughlin’s success at the 2008 Olympics, where she won six Olympic medals – the most of any American female athlete in a single Olympics at the time. In the conference, Smoliga calls Coughlin her “number one idol” and said that it was an honor swimming in a heat with Coughlin and Missy Franklin.