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Nurse: ''I'm looking forward to Canada doing something exciting in Japan''
OSTEND (Belgium) - WNBA star Kia Nurse was keen to soak up every aspect of the joyful moment in Ostend when she secured a second trip to the Olympics with Canada.
Speaking ahead of her 24th birthday later this month, the guard confessed that while still relatively young, time feels like it is galloping forward quickly.
Thrilled to punch a ticket to Tokyo, she was in reflective mood as she considered how she has evolved into a true leader for her country ahead of time - having initially broken through as a mere 17-year-old.
"I CONSIDER HOW I WAS THEN AND HOW I AM NOW, IT'S LIKE TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PEOPLE." - Nurse
"It's crazy how quickly things can seem to go when you are an athlete," smiled Nurse.
"We were doing half-court shots in practice and going in turn based on our years of service and I was up there in the top four. It was so strange because age-wise, I am still one of the younger ones on the team.
"But I am so thankful for this and the fact that I have benefited from the veteran leadership in the past and still right now today with this team.
"I think a lot about when I first arrived onto the senior scene and when I consider how I was then and how I am now, it's like two completely different people in just about every way.
"I am thankful that I'm a much more rounded version of myself that continues to get better - but that is testament to the help I have around me as an athlete."
She continued: "I am just super, super excited about going to Tokyo because one of the hardest things you can do is to qualify for an Olympics.
"The format for it was even harder than usual this time, so I am very proud of the team and what we have achieved. Now I am already looking forward to Canada Basketball doing something really exciting when we get to Japan."
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Canada have plenty to prove when they take to the floor at the Olympics. Head coach Lisa Thomaidis has already spoken of how her nation needs to take the next step. So far, the Quarter-Finals of major events have largely proven a frustrating glass ceiling.
But with Nurse in full flow, they have a free-scoring player who can be a deal-breaker and help them smash through it. Although not by brute force, but via the impressive composure that always seems to resonate from Nurse.
"AUSTRALIA IS A REALLY, REALLY SPECIAL PLACE AND NOW IT HOLDS A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART." - Nurse
With each passing competition, she looks even more at home as a top-drawer performer on the global stage.
"Playing in the WNBA and also now overseas in Australia has really helped take me to the next level and that is helping me when I am with the national team," she mused.
"While you always reach for challenges as a pro athlete because that is one of the main things that really drives you, I think the other side is that with experience, you get this feeling of things becoming even more comfortable and natural.
"That gives me the composure on the court to help get things done with this team."
Suiting up with Canberra Capitals in the WNBL seems to be a great fit alongside her WNBA club duties with the New York Liberty and trying to break fresh ground with Canada.
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"Australia is a really, really special place and it now holds special place in my heart," confirmed Nurse.
"I have loved both years that I have been there and the people are really great. It feels like a long way from home at times of course, but being an English speaking country helps me.
"As does the fact that we play less games than many leagues elsewhere and it has given me the chance to pick up more rest between playing for Canada and in the WNBA. But at the same time, still helping to develop my game.
"I honestly feel that playing in Australia has been one of the main reasons behind my jump forward between my first and second seasons in the WNBA - plus what I am now achieving with the national team," she added.