SEATTLE - Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird has been named to the 2008 USA Women’s Senior National Team, it was announced today by USA Basketball. This will be Bird’s second Olympic Games. She was a member of the USA’s Gold Medal team at the 2004 games in Athens, Greece.
“This is a great honor for me and I’m excited to again represent the USA at the Olympics,” Bird said. “Competing against the best talent in the world on behalf of my country is a wonderful opportunity.
Bird is no stranger to competing for the USA’s Senior National Team. She helped the team win the Gold Medal at the 2002 and 2006 World Championship Games. Following her senior season at the University of Connecticut in 2002, Bird averaged 4.3 points and 1.0 rebound per game at the World Championships in China. In 2006, the 5-9 guard made a big impact at the World Championship games in Brazil by averaging 7.4 points and 4.6 assists per game.
Bird is among a group of Storm players, a former coach and a member of the ownership group who have competed in the Olympic Games. Storm forward Lauren Jackson won silver medals for the Australian Women’s Basketball Team in 2000 and 2004 and will compete in the 2008 summer games for Australia. Guard Sheryl Swoopes, forward Swin Cash and center Yolanda Griffith teamed with Bird on the 2004 Olympic Team. Additionally, Griffith and Swoopes won Gold Medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Swoopes was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team that won Gold in 1996 in Atlanta.
Former Storm head coach Anne Donovan will coach the 2008 Women’s National Team in Beijing. She earned Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1988 as a member of the USA National Women’s Teams and as an assistant coach in 2004. In addition, Ginny Gilder, a member of the Storm ownership group Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., was a member of the 1980 U.S. rowing team and earned a silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games
In addition to Bird, the roster includes three-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks) and two-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith (Detroit Shock) and 2004 Olympians Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Tina Thompson (Houston Comets). Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) and Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury) will participate in their first Olympic Games.
The USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee will continue to discuss the final three roster spots before finalizing the 12-member team by July 1.
"I'm just thrilled to have these nine players officially named to the team," said Donovan. "It's such a great mixture of Olympic gold medalists with some really tremendous young talent. I love the combination of players that we have. We have Olympians who have experienced multiple Games like Lisa Leslie and Katie Smith, some who are returning for their second Olympics and then we have a very talented group of first-timers. Looking at these nine players, we've really covered the gamut in terms of experience and we have a tremendous balance of perimeter and post play."
"We know it will not be an easy road to the gold medal in Beijing, the rest of the world has gotten much better over the last four years," said USA Basketball vice president for senior women and chair of the selection committee Reneé Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations. "However, we feel that this group will continue to represent their country with pride and honor and compete at the highest level that is expected when representing USA Basketball. All of these athletes have played for Anne in the past, work well together and know her system. These are nine great players who are ready to face any challenge.
"We still have three more players to add to the team and we're hoping to add a tough defensive stopper on the perimeter who can also score for us, as well as at least another post player. The Committee will continue to look at all the remaining players in our pool, it's not a decision we take lightly. It will be a tough decision."
Not only does the '08 squad possess a combined eight Olympic gold medals, the athletes own a wealth of international experience. All nine have worn red, white and blue and returned to the United States with at least one gold. Included are seven who have competed at a FIBA World Championship, including Leslie and Smith, who garnered gold in 1998 and 2002. Also winning gold at the 2002 Worlds, where Leslie captured MVP honors, were Bird and Thompson; while Augustus, Bird, Parker, Smith, Taurasi and Thompson were all members of the 2006 USA World Championship Team that took the bronze medal with an 8-1 slate.