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Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi headed to Olympics for fifth time

/ 06:58 PM June 22, 2021
Gold medallists USA's guard Lindsay Whalen, USA's forward Seimone Augustus, USA's guard Sue Bird, USA's forward Maya Moore, USA's small forward Angel Mccoughtry, USA's power forward Breanna Stewart, USA's forward Tamika Catchings, USA's small forward Elena Delle Donne, USA's guard Diana Taurasi, USA's centre Sylvia Fowles, USA's centre Tina Charles and USA's centre Brittney Griner pose after the final of the Women's basketball competition at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 201

Gold medallists USA’s guard Lindsay Whalen, USA’s forward Seimone Augustus, USA’s guard Sue Bird, USA’s forward Maya Moore, USA’s small forward Angel Mccoughtry, USA’s power forward Breanna Stewart, USA’s forward Tamika Catchings, USA’s small forward Elena Delle Donne, USA’s guard Diana Taurasi, USA’s centre Sylvia Fowles, USA’s centre Tina Charles and USA’s centre Brittney Griner pose after the final of the Women’s basketball competition at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are headed to Tokyo for their fifth Olympic Games with the United States women’s basketball team.

The squad led by South Carolina coach Dawn Staley — a gold medalist with Team USA in 1996 — also includes A’ja Wilson, who played for the Gamecocks under Staley and was WNBA MVP in 2020 for the Las Vegas Aces.

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The U.S. women’s team has won six consecutive gold medals, dating to Staley’s squad in ’96. The loaded roster does not include some of the best players in the WNBA, such as former MVPs Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics) and Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike.

“USA Basketball has never been in a better place,” said Staley. “I’m honored to be the coach of such an amazing collection of talented women, both those named to the team and those who gave their all the last few years but won’t be with us in Tokyo.

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“The fact that some of the players who won’t suit up this summer would start for any other country is a testament to their talent and to what USA Basketball has done to build a program that lifts up our female athletes every single day.”

Minnesota Lynx forward Sylvia Fowles was named to the team for the fourth time and third-time Olympian Tina Charles (Mystics) is also back to chase another medal. Ariel Atkins, a guard for the Mystics, guard Jewell Loyd (Seattle) and Lynx forward Napheesa Collier are among first-time Team USA picks.

Bird, 40, and Taurasi, 39, played together at UConn and the college All-Americans have had championship careers in the WNBA. Their fifth Olympics selection in women’s basketball ties the record shared by Teresa Edwards of the U.S. and Brazil’s Adriana Moises.

UConn is well represented with five players on the roster: Bird, Taurasi, Collier, Charles and Seattle forward Breanna Stewart.

Staley is a three-time gold medal winner as a player and has twice been an assistant coach on Team USA gold medal victors.

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