When the highly debated Tokyo Olympics finally begin, the Australian National Basketball Team won’t have its best player on the court.
Friday (Jul.16), the Australian Olympic Committee confirmed that Australian Opals star Liz Cambage withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics to deal with mental health issues. The announcement comes after reports that the Opals were discussing Cambage’s future with the team following an incident during a closed-door scrimmage.
Sources revealed to ESPN that Cambage was involved in a physical altercation and verbal altercation during a closed warm-up game against Nigeria.
Cambage announced her decision to step away from the Olympics to focus on her wellbeing and mental health in a statement she shared on social media.
“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,” Cambage said.
“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. 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,” the WNBA star revealed.
“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.
“I know myself, and I know I can’t be the Liz everyone deserves to see compete for the Opals. Not right now at least. I need to take care of myself mentally and physically.”
Cambage closed out her statement by saying, “It breaks my heart to announce I’m withdrawing from the Olympics, but I think it’s best for the Opals and myself. I wish them nothing but the best of luck in Tokyo and I hope they go forth and win a gold medal. Love and light.”
It’s also alleged that Cambage broke team protocols by going out in Las Vegas, the site of this year’s WNBA All-Star Game, and where Cambage professionally hoops with the Las Vegas Aces, according to ESPN.
In response to the Cambage’s decision, AOC chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said the committee understood and respected her decision to step away from the team suddenly.
“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,” Chesterman said.
“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 a incredibly strong team to this campaign.”
Averaging 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Las Vegas Aces during the 2021 WNBA season, Cambage is one of the standout players on the team. So her presence will be extremely missed when the Tokyo Olympics tip-off.
Cambage isn’t the first high-profile athlete to step away from competition to focus on their mental health. Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon for mental health reasons. Osaka will be taking the court in the Tokyo Olympics.
We’re rooting for Liz Cambage any other professional athlete dealing with mental health issues, especially during this very trying year.
Photo: Bernard Smalls / @PhotosByBeanz83