Carli Lloyd talks Rio, family and her drive for gold in this exclusive PEOPLE interview
Credit: Harry How/Getty

U.S. Women’s Soccer co-Captain Carli Lloyd is the bedrock of the team and also one of its most exciting goal scorers. As she got ready for the Olympic Games in Rio, she took time to answer five questions exclusively for PEOPLE.

1. What have you done to get ready for Rio?

“I couldn’t have prepared any better for these Games. I feel more prepared going into this tournament than ever before. I injured my MCL on April 23 and was out of competition for 10 weeks, but I was able to slowly rebuild my body while continuing to make sure my knee was getting better and not in any pain. I feel rejuvenated and ready for this Olympics.”

2. What are the particular challenges of this Olympics, for the team and for you?

“Every team will give that extra effort against us since we are the world champions. We also have a lot of young players in the team that have never been to the Olympics before. We will need to be at our best in every game and find a way to help the young players perform at their best.”

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3. What do these Games mean to you and why?

“I love being a part of the Olympics. It makes you feel so connected to your country and the people. I know that the entire country will be watching and the thought of standing on the podium having won gold motivates me more than ever.”

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4. Who is going to be your support before and after matches, and how do these friends or relatives support you?
“Of course my fianc~ Brian who is my rock and always so supportive, my family and friends. They know I like to focus so they don’t make the trip to my big tournaments. They will all be waiting for me when I get home. My trainer James Galanis is my biggest support system while I am here in Rio. We will be texting and chatting daily as he is constantly providing me with words of wisdom.”

5. How do you see your role on the team at this point? Both on the field and off the field?

“Off the field I am trying to be a leader by helping out the younger players and on the field I’m trying to lead by example and help my team at the most difficult times. Being a captain has given me more confidence and all I want to do is inspire those around me.”

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.0000org. The Rio Olympics begin Aug. 5 on NBC.