Michelle Carter on Missing Tokyo Olympics and Focusing on Encouraging More Girls to Pursue Sports

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Michelle Carter is excited to cheer on Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics from her home when the Games begin later this month.

The 35-year-old athlete recently chatted with PEOPLE about not competing in the global sporting event, which is something she is "bummed about it because this is something you look forward to going to."

"I remember as a young athlete, I wanted to make as many Olympic teams as I could make, not just because I just wanted to go to the Olympics, but the crazy part is I really just wanted all the uniforms," she says with a laugh. "I tried to collect as many uniforms as possible because that was just the coolest thing for me to get. Just to have the Team USA uniform and have an opportunity to represent my country."

Carter continues, "And [now] I won't go back to defend my title. That's the biggest thing, like, you win the Olympics to be the defending champion and come back and try to do it again, and this year, I won't be able to. But I'm excited for the athletes who did make the team in my event in Women's Shot Put, they did amazing at the Olympic trials."

"Team USA is in great heads," the athlete — known widely as The Shot Diva — adds.

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Carter will not be taking part in the Tokyo Olympics, which were delayed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she heals and recovers from a surgically removed tumor. Last June, Carter underwent a procedure after she had "some issues" with her ankle and "wanted to see what was going on."

Noting that she is currently "healthy and everything is great," Carter says that doctors initially told her that she had a cyst after taking an MRI on her ankle. "They told me that it was just a cyst, like, 'Oh, we can just pop it, get the fluid out, you're good to go, that should decrease the pain, the irritation,' " she says.

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But when the time came to remove what the doctors believed was a cyst, Carter says they realized it was more than that and it was actually a tumor. "It took them about two-and-a-half hours to clean up this tumor in my ankle," she explains. "I understood because I knew that through MRI they can only see so much and you can't see all you need to see until you actually get in there to look at it."

"But I'm just glad that the doctors made the best decision they felt was going to be best for my health, especially at that time, [because] I didn't know if the tumor was cancerous or not," she continues, noting that doctors "took all precautions" to make sure she was healthy from the tumor, which eventually was revealed to be benign.

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And though sitting out of this year's Games is heartbreaking for the shot put champion, Carter has another exciting sport-related event to look forward to in the meantime — her sports confidence camp, You Throw Girl.

Created a few years ago by Carter, the idea for the positivity-backed camp, which meets one weekend a year and inspires girls to be both feminine and athletic, was inspired by conversations she was having with parents of young females.

"My journey first began when I made my first Olympic team. I received a lot of messages and feedback from people just saying, like, when they saw me, they related to me ... Especially with parents," Carter says. "The parents were like, 'I love how you're just out there being yourself, you're this strong, plus size woman, and you're confident. How can I get my daughters to be like that? How can I build my daughter's confidence up?'"

"And that was the theme that I kept hearing and so it kind of got my wheels to turn. Like, if this is something that I'm hearing over and over again, then there's a need for it. And if there's a need for it, how can I serve in that area?" she shares. "It really just took me a long time to actually get the camp started, because I wasn't too sure how to actually balance still being an athlete and competing and hosting my own camp."

Carter adds, "But after I won in 2016 I really was like, I have to put it out there because I know people are wanting this and I could really change some young girl's life. So I bit the bullet."