Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will bid to become the first five-time Olympic gold medallists in basketball when they lead the US women’s team at the Tokyo Games.
The duo were selected for their fifth Olympics on Monday, joining Teresa Edwards as the only basketball players in US history to play in five, with Edwards winning four gold medals and a bronze during her illustrious Olympic career.
There have been five international basketball players to play in five Olympic Games: Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro, Brazil’s Adriana Moises Pinto and Oscar Schmidt, Australia’s Andrew Gaze and Puerto Rico’s Teofilo Cruz.
Bird, aged 40, and 39-year-old Taurasi will lead a veteran group in Japan, including 6ft 6in Sylvia Fowles, who will be competing in her fourth Olympics.
Tina Charles is set to feature in her third Games, while 6ft 8in Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart return for a second time.
There will also be six newcomers to the Olympic stage led by reigning WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson. The Las Vegas Aces star helped the US win the World Championship in 2018 in Spain, while Skylar Diggins-Smith, Chelsea Gray, Ariel Atkins, Jewell Loyd and Napheesa Collier are among the debutants.
US head coach Dawn Stanley – who won three Olympic gold medals as a player and helped the team to two more as an assistant coach – insists US Basketball has never been in a better place.
“I’m honoured to be the coach of such an amazing collection of talented women, both those named to the team and those who gave their all in the last few years but won’t be with us in Tokyo,” Stanley said.
The Americans have not lost a game at the Olympics since 1992 – winning the last six consecutive gold medals. They are highly-fancied to triumph yet again, and will face France, Japan and Nigeria in the group stage.
They kick-off their campaign against Nigeria on July 27, before taking on Japan and France on July 30 and August 2 respectively.
However, the US team will arrive in Las Vegas for a week’s training in July, where they will feature in an All-Star game against a selection of WNBA players, before also locking horns against Australia and Nigeria in warm-up matches.
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