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U.S. Women's Soccer's Crystal Dunn Talks Equal Pay, Zika Virus

July 21, 2016
By Sydney Tonic

The U.S. women's soccer team will compete for its fourth consecutive gold medal during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Joining that team will be Washington Spirit forward Crystal Dunn, who will be playing in her first Olympic Games. 

"I am still on cloud nine," Dunn said July 18 on Glenn Clark Radio. "I honestly cannot believe it. It's been a great couple of days just catching up with ... a lot of my friends and family, and ... I actually took a trip up to New York two days ago, and it was good to kind of celebrate it with them."

Dunn grew up in Rockville Centre, N.Y., where she attended South Side High School. She went on to play soccer at the University of North Carolina and was a member of the 2012 FIFA U-20 team that won the women's World Cup in Japan. In 2014, the Washington Spirit drafted Dunn with the first-overall pick.

As a part of the national team, Dunn has been involved in the fight for equal pay for members of the National Women's Soccer League. According to The Washington Post, five women on the team, including forward Alex Morgan and goalkeeper Hope Solo, filed a wage discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer earlier this year, claiming male players made four times what female players made last year.

"[A team] really does become one voice, and the only way we can become unified is if we work toward having one voice on this matter," Dunn said. "At the end of the day, it was five people filing for this lawsuit, but it was 24, 25 of us that were standing behind their decision and ...  it's important that people realize that we are together and this is a big deal ... it's affecting all of us in the same way.

"This has become such a career for all of us that we're only fighting for us to make a living out of what we enjoy doing, and I don't think we're wrong for that."

Heading into the Summer Games, equal pay hasn't been the only issue on Dunn's radar.

Like many athletes preparing for Rio, Dunn, 24, has been forced to think about the Zika virus. Concerns over the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and can cause birth defects, has kept some athletes out of the Summer Olympics. 

"Everyone in their life has been [bitten] by a mosquito, so it's weird that now my whole idea of mosquitoes has definitely changed. ... I'm kind of like, 'Oh, this thing can actually like, you know, give me some type of virus that's a pretty serious virus,'" Dunn said. "But ... if we all go on thinking, 'Oh my gosh, please don't let me get [bitten] by a mosquito,' it's going to completely take our focus off of our task.

"I, personally, am just kind of like, 'Let me focus on the soccer.'"

Despite these issues, Dunn isn't distracted. She will head to Rio with one thing on her mind: helping her team bring back gold for the U.S.

"For us, it's just about going out there and working very hard for each other, and just obviously trying to get the result that we want," Dunn said.

For more from Dunn, listen to the full interview here:

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