Sue Bird and her Seattle Storm teammate, rookie Breanna Stewart, were both named to the U.S. women's national basketball team that will compete at the Olympic Games this summer.
Now in the twilight of her career, three-time Olympic gold medallist Sue Bird will get a chance to pursue a fourth gold medal this summer in Rio de Janeiro.
Bird and her Seattle Storm teammate, rookie Breanna Stewart, were both named to the U.S. women’s national basketball team that will compete at the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer, U.S.A. Basketball announced Wednesday morning.
Bird, 35, was named a tri-captain along with the Phoenix Mecury’s Diana Taurasi and the Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings. The team was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee and is pending approval by the USOC.
“It actually means a lot. In some ways it has even more meaning than the first three,” Bird said, when asked what it meant to her to get the chance to play in a fourth Olympic Games. “Mainly I think it’s because that when you are young the tendency is to take things for granted, and you just think these things are going to happen year after year or every four years.
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“But now that I am older, I see that I am really lucky. Really lucky to be here, and I’m really excited and honored. And I’m just looking forward to it.”
Stewart, 21, will be playing in her first Olympic Games. The 6-foot-4 former UConn forward was selected No. 1 overall by the Storm in the WNBA Draft earlier this month. Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky) and Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) will also be competing in the Olympics for the first time.
This caps a huge year for Stewart, who won her fourth national championship with UConn this winter, and was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player for the fourth-consecutive time.
But even Final Four MVPs get excited to receive phone calls from the chair of the the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Selection Committee, Carol Callan.
” When I saw that Carol (Callan) was calling, I had a mini heart attack. Because I’m like, ‘What’s going to happen? I don’t know! I don’t know.’ And then I answered it and obviously I knew who was calling, but when she congratulated me, it was … I was speechless. I did not know what to say. I was so excited about the opportunity to play this summer in Rio,” Stewart said.
The Storm rookie said getting to play in the Olympics marks the fulfillment of one of her loftiest goals.
“It’s definitely been a great year. I’ve had a lot of great things happen throughout my career, but when you look at this and when you look at the opportunity to be able to go to the Olympics, that was my biggest goal in basketball. It was the highest goal that I had set for myself,” Stewart said. “And now to be able to do that, this is definitely a year where so much has happened. Winning a fourth national championship, getting drafted, going to the Storm, and now this. It’s really amazing. I can’t wait to get going and see what happens.”
Stewart and Bird will be reunited with their college coach, Geno Auriemma, who was the head coach of the 2012 Olympic Team that took gold in London. Five of the 12 national team players are UConn alums who played for Auriemma in college.
“The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it’s the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team,” Auriemma said. “But the 12 that were named are a great combination of Olympic gold-medal experience, multiple gold medal winners and great leaders.
“There is also an influx of young players, which not only is going to be a great benefit to us this year, but I think it will set the stage going forward in two years for the (FIBA) World Championship and then in four years in Tokyo. They will be the future of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team.”
The full team is as follows:
- F Seimone Augustus (6-0, 166 pounds)
- G Sue Bird (5-9, 150 pounds)
- F Tamika Catchings (6-1, 167 pounds)
- C Tina Charles (6-4, 198 pounds)
- G/F Elena Delle Donne (6-5, 188 pounds)
- C Sylvia Fowles (6-6, 200 pounds)
- C Brittney Griner (6-8, 199 pounds)
- G/F Angel McCoughtry (6-1, 160 pounds)
- F Maya Moore (6-0, 196 pounds)
- F/C Breanna Stewart (6-4, 175 pounds)
- C Diana Taurasi (6-0, 163 pounds)
- G Lindsay Whalen (5-9, 169 pounds)
• The Storm waived guard Davellyn Whyte, who sat out the 2015 season because of an injury.