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Archive for July 17, 2021

July 17, 2021 — More than your typical “opt out”

Yesterday, in what could be a seismic shift in women’s basketball universe, Liz Cambage, the leading scorer in the Rio Olympics and a key player for the No. 2-ranked Australian women, decided to opt out of the Tokyo Olympics.

Cambage cited both physical and mental health as reasons for her to miss the Olympics. But given her behavior in the last few days, you wonder if this is an athlete who is close to an inglorious exit from her sport.

It was reported that Cambage got into a physical and verbal altercation during a closed-door scrimmage a few days ago against Nigeria, the country of her birth father.

Too, she was reported to have left the confines of the Australian national team’s health and safety protocols and was enjoying the sights of Las Vegas, where the Opals have been training. It is an allegation Cambage denied this morning on Instagram

I think there’s more to this. She has had a lot of pressure put on her ever since she was identified as a U-20 player on the world scene. She once had an issue playing for the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA, leaving the American professional circuit for five years before coming back to play for Dallas and Las Vegas in recent years. She has also complained about the lack of aboriginal and minority representation on Australian Olympic advertising, and has even pushed for the aboriginal national flag to be displayed on the Opals’ uniforms.

The off-court distractions, I think, have made an impact. And not necessarily a positive one.

It’s a shame because this is a good Opals team, one which beat a stacked U.S. team yesterday in a pre-tournament friendly in Las Vegas. Imagine what the Aussies could do with her at center.