Catching Up With YOG Ambassador Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie has been a prodigy in the golf world since becoming the youngest player to qualify for a U.S. Golf Association amateur championship at age 10. She then went pro at age 15. For those reasons and more, it made perfect sense for Wie to serve as an ambassador for the Youth Olympic Games and inspire and encourage athletes age 15-18 from around the world. Wie’s fellow Youth Olympic Games ambassadors include Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, South African swimmer Chad le Clos and Chinese basketball player Yao Ming.
Wie’s schedule did not allow for her to attend the Games in Nanjing, China, but she caught up with TeamUSA.org via phone to discuss her role as an ambassador as well as her hope to represent Team USA at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Why were you interested in serving as a Youth Olympic Games ambassador?
I was honored to be asked to be an ambassador for the Youth Olympic Games. I’m a huge believer in the Youth Olympics and think it does a lot of great things for young athletes. I was also part of the process for getting golf into the Olympics for 2016. It’s just all very special. My biggest dream is to make the U.S. Olympic Team for 2016 so it’s really a great honor to be associated with the Youth Olympics.
How were you able to navigate through such monumental decisions, such as turning pro at age 15, at such a young age?
I obviously started my career very young, but at the same time I had great people giving me advice — my parents were a big part of it, my coach, my agency. I think it’s great that these young athletes have the Youth Olympics; they have the village and the Culture and Education Program to lead them in the right direction and show them how to become a greater athlete.
Do you wish you had the Youth Games when you were younger?
Yeah, I do. That would have been awesome!
What advice do you have for the athletes competing at these Games?
I think that it’s just a great honor for everyone to represent their country. Every time I have the opportunity to represent our country it’s just amazing. There’s so much pride in representing the USA. You represent your country with pride but also with respect to other countries. It’s a great honor for all these kids to have this opportunity. No matter what happens in the end, just give it your best and learn from everything there.
What message would you like to send to Team USA?
Good luck and go kick butt!
What does it mean to you for golf to return to the Olympic program after 112 years?
To have golf reentered into the Olympics is just amazing. Growing up you watch the Olympics knowing you’ll never really have the opportunity to compete, and when they approached me and asked me to be part of that process it was a no-brainer for me. Getting golf into the Olympics will help the game grow in other countries. I’ve seen that happen with other sports so it’s exciting for golf to also have the chance to develop in countries where it hasn’t been before. The Olympics definitely give us an opportunity to do that; so just to have a chance to represent United States in golf is pretty cool.
What does the Olympic Movement mean to you?
It’s great and I think the Olympics definitely bring sport to countries where it hasn’t been before. It’s the most watched event globally and it inspires young athletes — such as myself — to aspire to become as good as we can in our field. It’s been cool to see all the countries get built up for the Olympics and it will have a positive impact over the years to come.
What will you do over the next two years to ensure you’re on the Olympic Team?
I’ll play really hard. It’s based on world rankings so I’m just going to do everything I can to make it to the top four (U.S. players in the world) and go for the gold.
If you make the team, what would you most look forward to about the Olympic Games outside of the competition?
I’m most excited about being around other athletes in the village and just the whole experience of learning about different sports and cultures. There are so many countries represented that I think it’s just going to be really cool to be around everything and take in the whole Olympic experience.