“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part;
the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”
~ Pierre de Coubertin, founder of modern Olympic Games
In this site, these are the articles surrounding the Olympics:
“There are 15,000 athletes and all have trained their entire lives for this event and want the Games to go on. Security around the athletes is just incredible at the moment.”
~ Information obtained from our own interview!
Michele Smith is a fantastic softball player beyond belief. She has earned two Olympic Gold Medals, 6 Japanese League Championships, and numerous other awards. She is known throughout the world for her extraordinary skills and great teamwork playing. Her full name is Michele Mary Smith, and she was born on June 21, 1967 in Califon, New Jersey. She went to Woodglen Middle School and Voorhees High School. She left for college at Oklahoma State, where some of her best memories were made. Starting at five years old, she started playing softball and was pitching by age 15. Her retired parents, Ernest and Barbara, now live in Tennessee on a 100 acre farm. Michele has played on quite a few teams, which includes the USA Olympic/National Team, Toyota Shokki (Japan Pro League), WPSL Gold, Redding Rebels, and NJ Belles. She has traveled all over the world to play softball. Some of the countries are Italy, Holland, China, Taiwan, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, and many more places.
On July 21, 1986, she was in the car with her father driving her home from an appointment when her car door opened during a turn. She was thrown out of the car and into a roadside post. Part of her elbow bone was chopped off and her left arm tricep was torn. This severely injured her muscle and nerve endings, affecting her overall pitching ability, and resulting in the end of her life as she knew it. “It was like losing my identity,” she stated in an interview. However, after nine full months of rehab, she came back as a pitcher at Oklahoma State University.
An official citizen of Japan, she has playing on the Japanese Pro League for the last 14 years. Michele is fluent in Japanese, and she teaches English to Toyota executives as a job. We interviewed her on the phone, and learned a lot about her.
ASK THE ATHLETE!
How did your family feel when you won your first medal?
They were very excited and proud, and took lots of pictures. They even missed Thanksgiving for me!
How did your high school Voorhees help you –any academic sacrifices?
Voorhees made a big difference. Great teachers and coaches were there. I gave up medical school to play softball.
Where have you traveled?
I’ve gone to many places: Italy, Holland, China, Taiwan, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, and more.
How has your life changed from the Olympics?
I am greatly honored and lucky for being in the Olympics; it is part of a rare group and influenced my life.
How did you feel after you won your first gold medal?
I felt amazing, excited, incredible, and proud for my country.
How many medals have you won, and for what?
I won Two Olympic Gold Medals and others in eight championships.
Walking in the open center in the stadium, with thousands of people, and winning was truly incredible.
What was the biggest hardship of being in the Olympics?
I would have to say training, preparations, everyday sacrifices, and financial outtakes.
What was training like?
It was very challenging since I worked 6 to 7 days a week, with no breaks. It is hard to take on the responsibility of representing the country, and everyone else wants to win.
How did you get to the Olympics?
Loads of nonstop training and preparation helped me to get into the Olympics.
Oxlade, Chris. Olympics. New York, NY: Dorling Kinderslet Publishing, 2000
Last modified: 04/02/08