Veteran volleyball star reflects on a trio of Olympic medals for USA

Jordan Larson: Olympic gold is ‘a culmination of years of hard work’

The emotion comes, in part, from the longevity of the 37-year-old Larson’s career, having joined the U.S. national team in 2009 after a standout collegiate effort at the University of Nebraska.

The gold in Tokyo in 2021 came after silver in London 2012 and bronze at Rio 2016, marking a remarkable decade of dominance – including a world title in 2014 and FIVB Nations League golds in each of 2018, 2019 and 2021 – for the USA women.

“Us winning gold in Tokyo, that was culmination of years of hard work,” Larson explained, noting it was a first for the U.S. women’s team.

“In reality, [a gold medal] is just a snapshot in time. What you remember is the journey that it took to get there. And I think that’s a good thing: That if we have so much weight in the pure outcome of what that is, if we kind of detach ourselves from what the results based on what we’re trying to put in every day… So falling in love with the process, getting better every single day. You’re hoping… knowing that you’re putting in the right amount of work to hopefully walk away with what you ‘want.'”

It’s a work ethos that Larson has tried to embody among her U.S. teammates as they compete among the best programs in the world.

“Over time, we’ve learned from our failures or shortcomings, what we can do to help us be better,” she continued. “And I think culturally we’ve set a great foundation of what it’s like to be a good teammate, how to show up every single day… culture matters. If you can’t understand how to work with each other, it doesn’t actually feel good. We’re trying to cultivate that.”

That culture, Larson said, envelopes a system of group and individual improvement, something Olympic teammate Jordyn Poulter echoed in a separate interview with last month.

Added Larson: “I’m constantly evolving,” she said. “The new generation is coming in and it’s just a different landscape. If I wanted to stick around, I had to figure out how to navigate that space. So, I’m really grateful for how much I’ve grown; I am a much different player than I was on the national team my first year.

“And I don’t take for granted the opportunities that I’ve had. I know that it’s hopefully going to serve me well in whatever I choose to do next.”

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