Just ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which starts on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand, soccer legend Megan Rapinoe announced her retirement — but she’s not backing down without a fight. Rapinoe will play one last World Cup with the rest of the US Women’s National Team in an effort to secure their third straight championship trophy.
In honor of her retirement, fans are reflecting on her legendary career, including one specific moment from the Tokyo Olympics that went on to earn her an ESPY Award for Best Play in 2022: her “Olimpico” goal during the bronze-medal match against Australia.
The USWNT took home the medal after defeating Australia 4-3 thanks in part to Rapinoe’s rare feat, which happened in the eighth minute of the game. But what is an Olimpico goal and what makes it so special? Let’s get into it below.
What Is an Olimpico Goal?
An Olimpico goal is a soccer goal scored directly off a corner kick, with no deflection or contact from another player. It’s rare to see because of the difficult (nearly impossible) angle, which requires the kicker to bend the ball in from a position that’s just about horizontal to the goal, not to mention the wave of players streaking toward the box looking for a deflection or a clear.
It’s called an Olimpico goal in honor of Cesáreo Onzari, a striker from Argentina who scored off a corner kick during a 1924 friendly against Uruguay, according to Olympics.com. Uruguay was the defending Olympic champion at the time, hence the name.
Megan Rapinoe’s Olimpico Goals
Rapinoe is the only known player to have scored an Olimpico at the Olympics, and she’s actually done it twice. Her first Olimpico at the Games came in London in 2012, on a corner kick that bounced and skipped just past the near post. That goal helped the US team move past Canada in the semifinals, on their way to a gold medal.
Watch Rapinoe’s 2012 London Olympic Games Olimpico goal:
Rapinoe’s second Olimpico, in Tokyo, couldn’t have been more different. She laced the ball into the top back corner of the net for a truly mind-boggling, “how is that possible?!” goal that you’ll have to watch a few times to understand. Compare Rapinoe’s two Olimpico goals below to see her defy the laws of physics (twice!) on the world’s biggest stage.
Watch Rapinoe’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Olimpico goal:
WATCH. THIS. GOAL.
— NBC Olympics & Paralympics (@NBCOlympics) August 5, 2021
— Additional reporting by Lauren Mazzo