How do you get into the mental mindset to compete at such a high level?
Focusing on the process – and the things that I can control right in front of me – always helps me find the best within myself. That's what helps me stay focused in high-pressure situations.
I competed in my first Olympics in 2002 when I was 19 years old. It seemed like a gargantuan leap to go from 44th place to the podium, so I focused on smaller intermediate goals that would build toward my ultimate goal. With each small success, my confidence grew, and I always had something tangible to focus on right in front of me. It also helped to surround myself with great people – parents, coaches, friends, teammates, medical professionals. They've all helped me stay on track through the highs and lows, and they're the best part about celebrating victories.