Hours after reports of a physical and verbal altercation during a scrimmage against Nigeria, Liz Cambage is out of the Olympics.
The Las Vegas Aces and Australia star announced late Thursday night that she is withdrawing from the Tokyo Games, citing concerns about her mental health at a “bubble Olympics.” The reported Nigeria altercation is not mentioned in the statement:
The full statement:
Anyone that knows me knows one of my biggest dreams is winning an Olympic gold medal with the Opals. Every athlete competing in the Olympic games should be at their mental and physical peak, and at the moment, I’m a long way from where I want and need to be. It’s no secret that in the past I’ve struggled with my mental health and recently I’ve been really worried about heading into a “bubble” Olympics. No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team. It’s honestly terrifying for me. The past month I have been having panic attacks, not sleeping and not eating.
Relying on daily medication to control my anxiety is not the place I want to be right now. Especially walking into competition on the world’s biggest sporting stage.
I know myself, and I know I can’t be the Liz everyone deserves to see compete for the Opals. Not right now at least. I need to take care of myself mentally and physically. It breaks my heart to announce I’m withdrawing from the Olympics, but I think it’s best for the Opals and myself. I wish them nothing but the best of luck in Tokyo and I hope they go forth and win a gold medal.
Cambage is obviously a massive loss for the Opals. The center is currently averaging 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in the WNBA, the most of any player on the Australian roster, and led the entire Olympic field in points per game at the 2016 Olympics with 23.6. Cambage was selected to her fourth WNBA All-Star Game earlier this season, but sat out against Team USA on Wednesday due to Achilles tendon issues.
Tokyo would have been Cambage’s third Olympics after 2012 and 2016, but she will now take a break before resuming the WNBA season.
Australian team might have expelled Liz Cambage
While Cambage cited her mental health concerns, it’s impossible to ignore the context in which she made her announcement.
Per the Sydney Morning Herald, Cambage was in danger of being dumped by the Australian team after an incident at a closed-door scrimmage against Nigeria in Las Vegas. Cambage was allegedly involved in a physical and verbal altercation with Nigerian players, leading to an investigation by Basketball Australia that put Cambage’s future with the team into question.
It’s unclear if the Australian federation will still take action after Cambage’s withdrawal. It’s also reportedly unclear if the team will be able to get a reserve player cleared to take Cambage’s roster spot in time for the Olympics, which begin on July 23.
Per the Herald, the 29-year-old Cambage had previously suggested that the Tokyo Games would be her final Olympic appearance as she prepares for life after basketball.
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