It takes a lot of guts to admit that it may be all downhill from here.

Celebrated U.S. alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, who has competed in four Winter Games over a 16-year Olympic career, finished third in what was likely her final downhill run.

While visibly disappointed that she didn’t take the top spot in her signature event — especially after winning a gold medal at the Vancouver downhill in 2010 — Vonn took to Twitter after finishing early Wednesday to say that her second bronze medal “felt like gold,” and she takes pride in being the oldest woman at 33 to ever win an Alpine medal at a Winter Games.

Her sportswomanship is admirable – and so is her self awareness. Vonn gave a teary interview to NBC after earning the bronze (her third Olympic medal) where she acknowledged that her thirty-something body just doesn’t perform at as high a level as it did in her twenties, and it may be time for her to retire. But she also owned the hard work and the drive that got her this far, making her one of America’s most famous Olympians. Many women don’t give themselves enough credit, and Vonn notably patted herself on the back even as she conceded that this wasn’t her peak performance.

Here’s what we all can take away from her graceful exit interview.

  • She competed with a purpose – not just personal glory. Vonn dedicated her downhill run to her grandfather, Don Kildow, who passed away in November. She even wears his initials on the side of her helmet. “I wanted to win so much because of him,” she said. “But I still think I made him proud. And our family never gives up, and I never gave up — I kept working hard, and I am really proud of this medal. And I know he is, too.”
  • She pushed through pain. Vonn has been dealing with a lengthy list of injuries, including two operations to repair torn ligaments in her right knee that kept her out of the 2014 Sochi games. “I tried so hard, and I worked my butt off,” she said on Wednesday. She also told the Associated Press that she credits these physical trials with toughening her up. “I think my injuries made me stronger. I do. Because I wouldn’t be the same person that I am today,” she said.
  • She’s a team player. “I’m so proud to have competed with such amazing girls,” she added. “My teammates have really supported me, and we’ve helped each other. Most of us have been injured pretty severely, so I’m really happy and proud to have been competing with them, and to have their support.” That sportsmanship is why even her competitors cheer her on. Italy’s Sofia Goggia, who took the gold on Wednesday, told ESPN that, “She is the greatest. And she had a wonderful career — and she is still ‘having’ because it’s not over.” Vonn even gave Goggia advice over coffee in Colorado a few months ago.

Lindsey Vonn competes during the Ladies’ Downhill at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

  • She listens to her body. The most tear-jerking part of Vonn’s interview came when she confessed it’s probably time to take a bow. “I gave it my best shot … It’s sad! This is my last downhill. I wish I could keep going, you know? I have so much fun. I love what I do. My body just probably can’t take another four years,” she said. “But I’m proud. I’m proud to have competed for my country. I’m proud to have given it my all.”
  • She’s rallying for one more run these Games. Don’t count her out at Pyeongchang just yet. Vonn returns for the Alpine combined on Thursday, which will tally up the skiiers’ downhill times and one slalom run. “It’s been fun. It’s been a fun ride,” she said. “I hope tomorrow I can maybe pull something out of the hat.”