Paige Selenski celebrated July 4 by helping the United States Olympic Committee kick off its Road to Rio Tour.
Selenski will be right back in action beginning Monday, trying to help the U.S. women’s field hockey team make it into the field for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
After playing and scoring a goal in the 2012 London Olympics, Selenski is on the squad that is trying to qualify the United States to be among the 12 teams playing in Brazil next summer.
The next attempt is in Toronto in the Pan American Games where the top finisher in the eight-team field lands a spot in Rio de Janeiro.
Argentina, the only team in the field ranked higher than the United States, will play an interesting role after ending the last U.S. qualifying attempt.
If either the United States or Argentina qualify win the Pan Am Games, the United States will qualify for the Olympics.
In last month’s World League Semifinals, the United States placed fifth of 12 teams when it needed to be in the top three to secure an Olympic berth. A quarterfinal loss to Argentina ended those hopes during an event when the United States was 4-2-1, posting the third-best record and finishing strong, but suffering its two losses at costly times.
“I don’t think we did as well as we wanted to,” Selenski said, “but I don’t think we played poorly. Sometimes that’s just the way the game goes, you just can’t put the ball in the goal when you need to.”
By recovering to win the final two games, the United States greatly improved its chances of advancing to the Olympics. Those wins are likely to ultimately put the U.S. in the field even if it does not win the Pan Am Games.
In addition to five continental championships, including the Pan Am Games, and the two sets of World League Semifinals, there were possibilities for between one and six more spots to be available if the same countries qualified both ways.
Two of those spots were made available to Argentina and New Zealand, the fourth-place teams in the two World League Semifinals, and between one and three more could still open up.
The United States put itself next in line because it has a higher world ranking than India, the other fifth-place team at the World League Semifinals.
“It was a little bit frustrating,” Selenski said of two straight shutout losses in Valencia, Spain in the last event. “But I was really pleased with how we came back from those losses and were able to secure those last two wins, because those last two wins will probably be the two most important games.
“It’s what we needed to put ourselves in the best position to qualify.”
Selenski scored a goal when the United States snapped out of a scoring drought and avenged a pool play upset loss to Ireland with a 6-1 romp.
“It did feel real good to get that win,” Selenski said.
Pool play at the Pan Am Games runs Monday through Friday and simply determines seedings for the July 20, 22 and 24 elimination games. The United States is in a pool with Chile, Uruguay and Cuba while Argentina is grouped with Canada, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
In the time between the two major international events, Selenski’s photo package and story were unveiled in the ESPN The Magazine Body Issue.
Selenski revealed two interesting pieces of information about her post-Olympic plans in the ESPN interview.
After playing with a torn labrum, Selenski plans to get it surgically repaired after the Olympics. Then, she is considering using her athletic ability to take a run at a Winter Olympic sport by using her sprinting ability and leg strength to go into training for the bobsled.
Track and field athlete Lolo Jones made the transition from hurdler to one of the push positions on the bobsled team, making the Olympics in both the summer and winter.
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