The U.S. Women's National Team may have flamed out in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, but we can't let the tournament finish without retelling one of the wildest stories in team history.
In the late '90s, the USWNT won its first Olympic gold medal and World Cup, both in a three-year span.
But before?Brandi Chastain?famously ripped her shirt off to celebrate World Cup gold in Pasadena '99, USWNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry took her clothes off to celebrate the U.S. women's Olympic gold medal in 1996.
While Chastain celebrated shirtless before the cameras, Scurry took a more discreet approach. It resulted in one of the most epic USWNT stories of all time — when Scurry went streaking through the streets of Athens, Georgia.
The True Story of Briana's Scurry Through Athens
It's true — to celebrate her 1996 Olympic gold medal, goalkeeping legend Scurry ran naked through Athen's streets at 2 a.m.
To hear Scurry?tell it, it all began with a misunderstood joke:
"Sports Illustrated called me, at my apartment, at 8 o'clock in the morning, so I'm half-asleep, right? And they're like, 'What would you do if you won the gold medal?' I said, 'Oh, I'll run naked through the streets of Athens,' hung up the phone, and fell back asleep."
Scurry initially thought nothing of the comment — until the father of?USWNT GOAT?Mia Hamm held Scurry's feet to the fire.
"A couple of weeks later, Mr. Hamm, Mia's dad, saw the article that said I would run naked. He was like, 'What's this?' And I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' Scurry remembers. "So he showed me the article and I'm like, 'Oh, no, they printed it.' But I didn't think anything of it. It was no big deal. I was just joking, because everyone else said [they'd go to] Disneyland or whatever. And so we get to the Olympics and . . . we get to the semifinal and we win [in overtime against Norway] and then the reporters started asking me about it. 'Are you going to run naked?' And I'm like, 'Oh, we've got to beat China first.'"
Scurry wasn't wrong — first, they did have to go through a tough Chinese women's team, whom they would face again in the 1999 World Cup championship. Thanks in part to Scurry's saves, the USWNT brought home the gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, winning the championship match in Sanford Stadium.
"And then we beat China [to win the gold medal in Athens] and I wasn't even thinking about it and I get to the area where all the media people are and they're like, 'Are you gonna run? Where are you gonna run? What are you gonna do?' So I'm like, 'Yeah, I'm going to do it. But I didn't say you could take pictures and I didn't say you could watch.'"
According to Scurry, she waited until 2 a.m., right around last call for most Athens bars. Scouting out an empty street, Scurry stayed true to her word.
"[Later] a friend of my roommate was [at the postgame party] and she got the video camera out, and so we got in my parents' rental car and we went to a real secluded little side street in Athens," Scurry said. "And I took all my clothes off in the back seat and put a towel on. And I'm sitting there and she's videotaping me freezing my butt off and I'm talking, I forget what I was saying: 'Here I am in the back seat of my car and here's my medal. I'm gonna do it.' So I put the medal on, opened the door and took off the towel. I've got nothing on. No socks, nothing. Just the medal. So I ran down from like here to that tree [about 20 yards] and back. Completely deserted area. Two o'clock in the morning. People think I'm crazy, but I was like, 'Look. I said it. We won. I did it.' Am I going to do it again? No."
Needless to say, Scurry is probably relieved social media wasn't around back then.
When asked what she would've done had the police arrived, Scurry had the?perfect response:
"I'd just show them my medal."
Now that's a champion.
Scurry Belongs on the Mount Rushmore of USWNT Players
One naked night in the Classic City won't ruin your career — just ask any University of Georgia grad.
Scurry's streak was only the beginning. Three years later, she led the U.S. women to World Cup gold over China, saving a penalty kick in the Rose Bowl. After collecting silver at the 2000 Olympics, she helped found the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), one of the National Women's Soccer League's (NWSL) many precursors. Playing for the Atlanta Beat, she was named the 2003 WUSA Goalkeeper of the Year, followed by another 2004 Olympic gold.?
Scurry was inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2017 and has since become an advocate for mental health, women's rights and equal pay.?
Last year, Scurry became an author, releasing her hard-hitting memoir, "My Greatest Save."? The?best-seller?deals with Scurry's life, successes and struggles after suffering a major brain injury during a Women's Professional Soccer League (another NWSL precursor) game in 2010.?
While Scurry's life has moved on, the streets of Athens will never forget the time Briana Scurry ran through them.?
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