Aussie basketballers more worred about Beijing pollution than American competition
The Australian Women's basketball team's WNBA superstar Lauren Jackson is not fretting about the basketball war with America that awaits her in Beijing; she's more worried about the weather.
Asked at a lunch on the Gold Coast about Australia's ultra-intense rivalry with the Americans, the Australian women's captain quipped: "I am not concerned too much about them ... I am more concerned about the (Beijing) pollution."
The Opals - as the Australien women's team is nicknamed - and the Australian men's team were presented with special Olympic rings to celebrate their selection on a day when Penrith-born Matthew Nielsen, who plays in Lithuania, was confirmed as the men's captain.
Though Jackson's remark drew laughter and applause from the crowd, beneath the whimsy there was a steely acceptance that the time had come for a generation of stars who have grown from girls to women together to claim their destiny.
'I have grown up with most of these girls,' Jackson says of her teammates. 'It is so exciting to be able to go out and win for them and our families.'
Australia - though current world champions - have never won an Olympic gold medal in basketball and may never have a better chance.
"We have known each other for many, many years," Jackson said.
"I have grown up with most of these girls. It is so exciting to be able to go out and win for them and our families.
"We have played together for a long time and everybody is at their peak. If we ever have an opportunity this is it."
Jackson, Penny Taylor, Rohanee Cox and Suzy Batkovic have been court-mates since spending part of their mid-teens at the Australian Institute of Sport.