Olympic memories: Tammy Sutton-Brown in 2000

By Tom Rietmann | August 3, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- The jerseys are tucked away for safekeeping. She has two from appearances with the WNBA All-Stars in 2002 and 2007. And there's another that she donned as a member of the Canadian team in the 2000 Olympic Games.

Tammy Sutton-Brown plans to have all of those jerseys framed one day. All of them represent special times and career highlights for the Indiana Fever center.

But one in particular -- the jersey from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia -- holds meaning and evokes memories that Sutton-Brown anticipates cherishing the rest of her life.

“Are there ever memories from the Olympics!” Sutton-Brown said after a recent Fever practice. “I think (mainly) it's that opportunity to represent your country. To wear that symbol, knowing that you are representing all of Canada, was such an amazing feeling. It's probably the highlight of the career. The Olympics is the top of the top.”

The 2012 Olympic Games in London are moving into the final stages of action. Sutton-Brown is in Indianapolis, practicing with the Fever as the WNBA's month-long break for the Games winds down.

Sutton-Brown has kept track of her Fever teammate, Tamika Catchings, who's playing for the U.S. team in London. And she's followed the team from her native country of Canada.

One recent morning, Sutton-Brown rose early to click on the Canada-France matchup.

“It brought me back to when we were actually there 12 years ago and what it felt like to play in the Olympics,” said Sutton-Brown, who played for the Canadian team when she was still in college at Rutgers. “You're calling plays on defense, and you are hearing the other team calling stuff. But it's not in English, it's in some foreign language. It definitely brings back memories.”

Sutton-Brown averaged 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds for Canada's 2000 team, which fell short of the medals round. She remembers the tension and anxieties that she and teammates dealt with as they prepared for each game. Nobody wanted to disappoint the home country.

“You're one of the top 12 teams in the world participating in these Games,” Sutton-Brown said. “The pressure to bring home a medal is intense, although you have so many great teams. The Americans are so strong. The Australians are so strong. But just to do everything we could (to win) was what we really wanted to take away from the Games.”

The Olympic Games opening ceremonies remain a highlight for Sutton-Brown, now 34 and in her 12th WNBA season.

“It's one of those things that you can't even describe unless you are actually in it,” she said. “It's one of those things you'll never forget. It's all the other countries, the lights, the people. There's so much going on.”

Sutton-Brown's strong performance in the Olympics perhaps served as a confidence boost when she returned for her senior season at Rutgers. She topped the Scarlet Knights in scoring (12 points per game), field goal percentage and blocks. She was a team leader for a Rutgers squad that advanced to its first appearance in the NCAA Women's Final Four.

“To have taken a medal from the Olympics would be that much greater,” Sutton-Brown said. “Obviously, I'm still searching for the WNBA championship, and that ring will be incredibly special. But the Olympics will probably be one of those stories you tell your kids about one day.”