A few minutes later, an Olympic gold medal was hanging around her neck, too.
Hamm and the rest of the Fab Five had just enough left in their thirtysomething legs for one more title, beating Brazil 2-1 Thursday in overtime in their final tournament together.
"I can't think of a better group of players that I'd want to stand out there and compete with," Hamm said. "They carried me tonight, that's for sure."
Abby Wambach, the player who might break Hamm's records one day, scored in the 112th minute with a powerful 10-yard header off a corner kick from Kristine Lilly. It was Wambach's fourth goal of the Athens Games and 18th in her last 20 games.
The game marked the final competitive appearance together for the remaining players from the first World Cup championship team in 1991. The five helped bring their sport to national prominence and captured the country's imagination by winning the World Cup in 1999, and together they have played in 1,230 international matches.
Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett are retiring from the national team — although they might play in some farewell exhibitions this fall — leaving Lilly and Brandi Chastain as the last of the old guard. Hamm plans to start a family with her husband, Chicago Cubs shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.
"I talked about feeling good about where I was in my life, and this a great way to end it," Hamm said.
In other Olympics news:
Track & Field
Marion Jones will be part of the U.S. Olympic 400-meter relay team, coach Sue Humphrey announced.
Jones' participation had been a subject of speculation because she is being investigated by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. However, she has not been charged with any doping offense.
Jones also qualified for the long jump finals with the seventh-best jump of the qualifying round: 21 feet, 11-3/4 inches.
Allen Johnson, a four-time world champion and the 1996 Olympic gold medalist, made a shocking exit from the second round of the 110-meter hurdles. He tripped over the ninth hurdle, then stumbled and fell underneath the last one.
Allyson Felix narrowly missed becoming a teenage gold medalist when she was beaten in the 200 by Jamaica's Veronica Campbell. Campbell won in a personal-best 22.05 seconds.
The biggest thrill of the night for Greek fans came when countrywoman Fani Halkia won the 400-meter hurdles in 52.82 seconds.
Olga Kuzenkova of Russia won the gold medal in the hammer throw with an Olympic record of 246 feet, 1 inch.
Rulon Gardner, one of the biggest stars of the 2000 Summer Games,
one of the biggest stars of the 2000 Summer Games, bounced back after a stunning upset in the semifinals in the Greco-Roman wrestling 264½-pound weight class to win the bronze medal.
Gardner defeated Sajad Barzi of Iran 3-0.
Gardner had gone from obscurity to celebrity after his stunning upset four years ago of the once-invincible Alexander Karelin, generally considered the greatest wrestler of all time. But Gardner has fought through a long succession of physical ailments since Sydney.
He lost a toe — and nearly his life — after a February 2002 snowmobiling accident left him stranded for 18 hours in the wilderness of Wyoming. He survived a motorcycle crash earlier this year, only to severely dislocate his right wrist in a pickup basketball game.
The short version of the match from Gardner: He aggressively went at Tsurtsumia, trying to take the lead against a tiring opponent, but left himself unguarded and Tsurtsumia stepped around and took him to the mat.
"One throw and that's the whole match," Gardner said. "One mistake."
Winning golds were Hungary's Istvan Majoros at 121 pounds; Azerbaijan's Farid Mansurov at 145½ pounds ; and two Russians, Alexei Michine at 185 pounds and Khasan Baroev at 264½ pounds .
The United States hushed a boisterous Greek crowd, putting six players in double figures and advancing to the semifinals with a win over the host nation.
Shannon Johnson and Tina Thompson led the Americans with 20 points each.
Russia beat the Czech Republic and will meet the Americans in the semifinals, a rematch of the final of the 2002 world championships, which the U.S. team won.
Janeth Arcain went 6-for-6 from the free throw line over the final 37 seconds, and Brazil advanced to the semifinals for the third straight Olympics.
Lauren Jackson had 28 points and nine rebounds to lead Australia over New Zealand.
A windsurfer whose first name means "wave" in Hebrew gave Israel its first Olympic gold medal ever.
Gal Fridman sailed a remarkably consistent regatta, never finishing worse than eighth in the 11-race series. He placed second in Wednesday's decisive race.
After Fridman crossed the finish line, he took a victory dip and then wrapped himself in an Israeli flag when he came out of the water.
In 12 previous Olympics dating to 1952, Israel had won only one silver and three bronze medals. Fridman won a bronze in his event in 1996.
Faustine Merret of France won the gold in the women's race.
Kate Allen of Austria passed half of the field during the final leg of the swim-cycle-run endurance test, finishing in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 43.45 seconds.
Closer to the rear of the pack than the front for most of the race, she passed everyone during the closing 10-kilometer run, including leader Loretta Harrop of Australia only a few strides before the finish.
Susan Williams, the last American to qualify for the race over the summer, won the bronze despite crashing early in the cycling leg.
Ryan Bayley of Australia added the Keirin title to his sprint gold medal, highlighting Australia's overwhelming dominance of cycling at the Athens Games.
Bayley is the double individual gold medalist, and teammate Graeme Brown won gold in both the team pursuit and Wednesday's Madison.
Brown teamed up with Stuart O'Grady for the Madison.
Russian veteran Olga Slyusareva controlled the points race from start to finish and finally added an Olympic gold to her impressive list of titles.
The United States failed to win a track cycling medal for the first time since 1976.
Russia defeated defending Olympic champion Serbia-Montenegro in a four-set quarterfinal match — avenging a loss in the 2000 final in Sydney to the team then known as Yugoslavia.
Serguey Tetyukhin scored 22 points, including the winning kill in the crucial third set after Russia fended off game point twice.
Up next for the Russians in Friday's semifinals is Italy, which beat Argentina in four sets.
The United States beat Greece with a wild five-set comeback and advanced to play Brazil in the other semifinal. The Americans overcome a 20-12 deficit in the fourth set and fended off match point in the fifth.
Americans Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova earned a bronze medal in the Olympic duet final, finishing behind the Russians and Japanese.
Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova won the gold with 99.334 points. Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda took silver with 98.417.
Bartosik and Kozlova totaled 96.918.
Andre Dirrell of the United States narrowly beat Cuba's Yordani Despaigne to advance to the Olympic middleweight semifinals.
In another quarterfinal, Thailand middleweight Suriya Prasathinphimai upset Ukraine's Oleg Mashkin 28-22.
Suriya next faces Russia's Gaydarbek Gaydarbekov, the silver medalist four years ago in Sydney. Gaydarbekov beat Cameroon's Hassan Ndam Njikam 26-13.