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Kallie Humphries Becomes U.S. Citizen, Is Eligible to Compete in Beijing Olympics for Team USA

·3 min read
Second placed Kaillie Humphries of the US reacts after the second run on the podium after the second run of the women's monobob competition during the IBSF Bob and Skeleton World Cup, the opening event of the Olympic season, at the Olympic sliding track in Innsbruck, Austria, on November 20, 2021. - - Austria OUT (Photo by Peter RINDERER / various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by PETER RINDERER/EXPA/AFP via Getty Images)
Second placed Kaillie Humphries of the US reacts after the second run on the podium after the second run of the women's monobob competition during the IBSF Bob and Skeleton World Cup, the opening event of the Olympic season, at the Olympic sliding track in Innsbruck, Austria, on November 20, 2021. - - Austria OUT (Photo by Peter RINDERER / various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by PETER RINDERER/EXPA/AFP via Getty Images)

PETER RINDERER/EXPA/AFP via Getty

Kaillie Humphries is officially a United States citizen!

The Canada-born bobsledder, 36, will be eligible to compete for the U.S. at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, according to an announcement from Team USA. She is expected to be named to the team in January.

"I'm more emotional than I thought I would be," said Humphries in Tuesday's release from USA Bobsled/Skeleton. "Even though you believe in your application and you know it meets the requirements, you don't know. When she came back in and said, 'Yes, I'm approving your application for citizenship,' then it was real."

She added, "It was a long journey, this has been a team effort and feels amazing to have the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."

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Humphries, who has been living in the U.S. since 2016, celebrated the special occasion on Instagram, calling herself "living proof that the American Dream still exists."

"Immigration is not just a link to the past. It's also a link to the future," she wrote Thursday before quoting Eleanor Roosevelt: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

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Some days, the athlete said, becoming a citizen "seemed impossible." But she "never gave up hope or lost faith" in her goal: "I've always had a strong belief in what I was doing and who I wanted to become."

Humphries thanked her husband Travis Armbruster, mother Cheryl Simundson, and lawyer John Exner for their support on her journey to U.S. citizenship. She also thanked Team USA "for believing in me too."

"To the government officials, local congress and immigration officers I worked with," she said, "I promise to make you proud. Thank you for working so diligently."

The bobsledder concluded, "It really took a village to get to this point. Many helping hands from everyone who believed I was worth it, I couldn't have done it without you. THANK YOU!"

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Back in September, Humpries told PEOPLE in a joint interview with partner Lolo Jones that the move was going to be "life-changing" for her.

"To be a part of a country and an organization that provides me safety, that provides me the mental stability that I need and allows and empowers me to be the best version of myself, I have never felt that the way that I do a part of team USA," the athlete said at the time.

Kaillie Humphries of the US starts for the first run of the women's monobob competition during the IBSF Bob and Skeleton World Cup, the opening event of the Olympic season, at the Olympic sliding track in Innsbruck, Austria, on November 20, 2021. - - Austria OUT (Photo by Peter RINDERER / various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by PETER RINDERER/EXPA/AFP via Getty Images)
Kaillie Humphries of the US starts for the first run of the women's monobob competition during the IBSF Bob and Skeleton World Cup, the opening event of the Olympic season, at the Olympic sliding track in Innsbruck, Austria, on November 20, 2021. - - Austria OUT (Photo by Peter RINDERER / various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by PETER RINDERER/EXPA/AFP via Getty Images)

PETER RINDERER/EXPA/AFP via Getty

"From my teammates, from my coaching staff, from the leadership, everybody, I have a say in how I operate, what I need. They trust me that I know what I'm talking about to be the best," Humpries added. "And as a female athlete, that is so empowering. And that provides me [with] so much confidence.

Ultimately, Humphries hopes to "give back to the country that has provided the freedom in order to be able to live my best life." She said "it took a big brave step in order to do it," but is pleased she did.

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"I appreciate what [the] U.S.A. has offered and I'm more motivated than ever to do everything to give back to a country that has offered me so much," Humpries told PEOPLE, "and to be able to do that with a teammate who also is very motivated to achieve her own goals and dreams is I think what makes us a strong team as a whole is we have our individuals, but it's not just about us individually."

"It's something greater for this country, which I can always get behind a hundred percent," she added. "And I want to be able to bring home two gold medals and this will also be a new thing for Beijing."

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