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Cambage withdrawl a hammer blow to Opals ahead of Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament
LAS VEGAS (USA) - Australia’s preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Women’s Basketball Tournament has been rocked by the withdrawal of their marquee star Liz Cambage.
The standout center posted a tweet on Thursday night from the team’s pre-Olympic camp in Las Vegas, citing mental health concerns inside the bubble ahead of what’s going to be an unprecedented Games.
“It breaks my heart to announce I’m withdrawing from the Olympics,” stated Cambage.
“I wish them [the Opals] nothing but the best of luck in Tokyo and I hope they go forth and win a gold medal.
“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."
She continued: “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.”
The absence of the four-time WNBA All-Star is an undeniable blow for an Australian team looking to return to the podium after a fifth-place finish at Rio 2016, which broke a streak of five consecutive Olympic Games with a medal. She was also the centerpiece of their run to the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Final in 2018.
Australian Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman added: “Liz has made a great contribution to the Australian Olympic Team over two Olympic Games campaigns. We respect her decision and wish her the best in returning to full health.”
“Our focus now moves to working with the Opals so they can achieve the goals they have set for themselves in Tokyo. We know they are totally committed to achieving success in Tokyo and they will still bring an incredibly strong team to this campaign.”
The Opals are set to open their Tokyo 2020 campaign against Belgium on Tuesday July 27.