Before Olympic Games, Americans talk to their sport stars. Today it’s libero of USA national volleyball team, Rich Lambourne.
You didn’t play professionally overseas this past season, but have played in Russia, Poland, Greece, Belgium, Austria and The Netherlands. Of those, which is your favorite?
I liked Poland a lot, just because they’re super, kind of volley crazy. So you get good crowds, the level of that league is pretty good. Russia was obviously pretty strong as well. I mean, Russia was terrible, but that was more a function of the city I lived in, which was just kind of backwards and awful. It’s kind of hit and miss as to which cities decide to modernize a little bit. And the place I was in was not one of those.
Where were you?
I was in a city called Belgorod, which doesn’t mean anything to anybody that hasn’t been there. It’s like a two-hour flight south of Moscow, next to the Ukrainian border.
What did winning the 2008 Olympic gold medal mean to you?
It’s kind of hard to quantify. The best thing I can really come up with is that it’s something that anybody can relate to as far as the magnitude of that accomplishment. What I mean by that is, a few weeks before the Olympics we won the World League, which in some ways may be even a more difficult competition. But if I go, “Hey, we won the World League,” that means nothing to anybody who doesn’t know the ins and outs of international volleyball. But if you say, “I’m an Olympic gold medalist,” everybody in the world pretty much knows that’s kind of a big deal.
Has being the defending Olympic champions added pressure to the team?
I don’t think so. I think the pressure comes internally, from the guys that were a part of that team. In my personal opinion, the great thing about winning a medal at the Olympics is that’s something that you can’t like mess up the rest of your career and then it gets retroactively taken away from you. You can only hopefully add on to it. So I don’t think it’s like, “Hey, we won it once, we need to do it again, otherwise that other one’s diminished.”
When you’re not playing volleyball what types of things do you like to do?
Right now, golf has been the go-to off-time activity. One of my teammates, Riley Salmon, and I, we try and get out once or twice a week. Southern California’s great because the weather’s cooperative most of the time. We’re training five days a week and lifting three days, so Tuesday and Thursday are our off days from lifting. In the afternoons we try and get out and swing the clubs and relax and enjoy ourselves.