Olympics-Lloyd leaves the critics behind on road to fourth Games

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Soccer: U.S. Women's National Team Summer Series-Nigeria at USA
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By Amy Tennery

(Reuters) - After two World Cup titles, a pair of Olympic golds and a roster spot secured for her fourth Summer Games, there is seemingly little that Carli Lloyd can't do.

In a recent Zoom interview with Reuters, her list of talents included troubleshooting a reporter's malfunctioning microphone, after navigating more than a year's worth of remote media calls in the excruciating wait for the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

"I can add it to my resume," said Lloyd, 38, the multifaceted forward who has come to embody the U.S. women's national soccer team since she scored the gold medal-winning goal in 2008, enjoying an unprecedented, age-defying career.

"(From an) explosive standpoint, a strength standpoint, this is the best I've ever felt," said Lloyd.

"I still have the same hunger, the same motivation the same determination. But yeah, I've come a long way from 2008, that's for sure."

The path hasn't always been easy, after well-documented frustration with former national team head coach Jill Ellis, who slotted her into a "super sub" role for the Stars and Stripes' successful 2019 World Cup, a snub Lloyd said was based on her age and not her ability.

"I was already being written off," said Lloyd.

"I didn't want people to sit here and feed off of this nonsense - that wasn't true - that I'm too old, I can't play 90 minutes, because here we are. I'm almost 39 years old and I'm playing 90 minutes."

It was a trial that prompted a personal ethos: "Be so good they can't ignore you".

Sidelined for most of 2020 with injury, Lloyd became the oldest player to score a goal for the four-time World Cup winners this month, and credits some of her longevity with diet, promoting - in the case of new sponsor Gone Rogue Protein Snacks quite literally - a high-protein approach to fuelling.

"Everything (is) syncing up now," said Lloyd. "Everything that I have been working on, my preparation, it's all coming and now it's just the mindset."

After 302 international caps - the third most of any women's soccer player - she knows the road ahead is shorter than the one behind her.

"It's not going to be a physical thing for me to eventually retire - which, you know, maybe would be an easier thing," said Lloyd. "It's going to come down to a life decision."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery, editing by Ed Osmond)