Aussie basketball icon Lauren Jackson has made the sad announcement she won't be joining the Opals at the Paris Olympics having helped the national team qualify for the event. The 42-year-old stunned the national team when she made a comeback for the 2022 World Cup where Australia claimed bronze.
After a couple of years battling injuries, Jackson played in Australia's 85-52 victory over Germany in Belem, Brazil, before she announced it would be her final game for the Opals. "I'm done ... I love Brazil, Brazil has been very good to me," said Jackson, who was part of the Opals' victorious 2006 World Cup campaign in Brazil.
"How fitting that I get to finish my national career with Australia in Brazil. It's very special." Jackson has been a central part to the Opal's success across the last 20 years with four Olympic medals during her career.
Jackson initially retired in 2016 due to a persistent knee injury. She then came out of retirement, before working her way back to fitness to make Sandy Brondello's team on the bench at the 2022 home World Cup.
Jackson was used off the bench during the tournament, but put in a classic display against Canada. The legend totalled 30 points as Australia won the bronze-medal match. Jackson appeared to have retired from international basketball after an injury ruled her out for the Flyers.
The 41-year-old was then selected for the Opals in the squad and played her last game in the Olympic qualifier. Fans were left devastated to hear the Aussie basketball icon wouldn't be travelling to Paris with the team.
— jean-François.T 🐍🏀 (@mynameiskb24) February 11, 2024
Noooooooo! @laurenej15 you have to play in Paris. One last time!
— Matthew M #WATheDreamState (@MattM_78) February 11, 2024
— Phillip Basti (@PhillipBasti) February 11, 2024
It sometimes blows my mind that Lauren Jackson is out there playing again. It’s a reminder to us all about what heart and determination can get us. Don’t ever let anyone or anything take away the thing you love. https://t.co/g7KohBTPwD
— Storm Chasers (@WNBAStormChaser) February 10, 2024
Go to Paris. Don’t quit now.
— PiesMag - Tobes (@PiesMag) February 11, 2024
All 12 Opals got on the scoreboard against Germany, led by captain Tess Madgen's 15 points, including 13 without a miss in her side's commanding first half. Bec Allen added 10 points, as did 19-year-old Isobel Borlase in an impressive debut in the green and gold.
"The biggest thing with the Sabally sisters being out was to not be complacent, because that can happen," coach Brondello said. "Our first half wasn't perfect, but we were locked in. We knew we'd be qualifying for Paris if we won tonight. Happy to get that behind us."
Lauren Jackson fights back from injuries
Back in December 2022, Jackson played through the pain of a broken foot foot injury ahead of her tribute match. Jackson then hobbled off injured during her tribute match after a minute. At the time, Jackson admitted it was the right time to call the end to her career.
“I don’t feel great, but it is what it is,” Jackson told 9Now post-game after the tribute match. “I was on borrowed time anyway. It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it? Anyway.” Last year, Jackson was thankful after 7,681 fans attended her final domestic match in the Southside Flyers and Sydney Flames clash, which was a Women's National Basketball League attendance record.
“I’m really delighted to see so many fans come out tonight, I’m only sorry that I couldn’t be out there on the court making an impact. It was so inspiring to see a full arena, a special thank you to my family, Gerry and the Flyers fans for coming out tonight,” Jackson said.
Jackson made her debut for the Opals at the age of 17 in 1996. She has since been named Australia's international player of the year five times.
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