WNBA star Sue Bird’s pursuit of a fifth Olympic gold medal for Team USA will be put on pause until 2021, with Japan’s Prime Minister and President of the International Olympic Committee announcing this week the Tokyo Olympics will be postponed.
And Bird is determined to keep going, even though she turns 40 years old in October.
In a recent interview with the Seattle Times, the three-time WNBA champion and 11-time All-Star said she can’t imagine sitting out the Olympics next year.
“I’ve always believed the best ballplayers should be on the team, without a doubt,” she told reporter Jayda Evans. “If I’m physically able and I’m playing at the top level and the opportunity is there, of course I’m going to say yes to it. I would feel weird saying otherwise.”
The USA Basketball Women’s National Team was put in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games following its victory in the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain. Team USA is 100-1 since 1996, and has taken home Olympic Gold in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Bird owns a combined seven Olympic and world championship medals, putting her on equal footing with legend Lisa Leslie, and one behind Teresa Edwards.
Bird averages 12.6 points per game and 7.1 assists per contest in her WNBA career.
With the WNBA tentatively scheduled to open training camp April 26 and begin the season May 15, Bird will receive more time to heal from her knee surgery last fall. The oldest active player in the WNBA averaged 24 minutes per game as a starter for Team USA’s exhibitions.
While Bird has spent her entire 19-year WNBA career with the Seattle Storm, she is currently quarantining in her Connecticut apartment with girlfriend and soccer star Megan Rapinoe, the Seattle Times reports. The couple donated $2,000 to author Shea Serrano’s cash give-away fund supporting those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bird says her time on Seattle made her realize the severity of the coronavirus before many of her friends and peers on the East Coast.
“I’m thankful for being in Seattle the last two weeks of February,” she said. “That’s when this all became real. When you started to go into grocery stores and see the toilet paper gone, I understood the severity of it all and that it’s not going to go away.”
Many other LGBT athletes have reacted to the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics as well. You can read their reactions here.