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Golden years: selection of Sue Bird’s Olympic team, Diana Taurasi strengthens 2021 as prime time for aging athletes

When Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi won their first Olympic gold medals, there was no iPhone, Chipotle had over 300 restaurants spread across the country, and Netflix still mailed DVDs of movies.

Oh, my gosh, let’s go: another story of some amazing “AARP athletes”.

Bird and Taurasi were named on Monday by USA Basketball to the Senior Women’s National Team which will seek a seventh consecutive gold medal when the 2021 Olympics begin on July 23 in Tokyo. It will be the fifth Olympics for Bird, who is 40, and for Taurasi, who celebrated his 39th birthday earlier this month.

In a year filled with them, they represent two more examples of athletes extending their excellence well beyond what was considered “the age of retirement” in the past, joining the Super Bowl champion. Tom Brady (43), PGA Champion Phil Mickelson (50) and Indy 500m winner Helio Castroneves (46), as well as football star Carli Lloyd, aiming to make his fourth Olympic team at 39 and sprinter Allyson Felix, who qualified for her fifth Olympics by finishing second in the 400-meter Sunday at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., and turns 36 in November.

“It was just a great trip – playing so long and playing alongside the family, my friend. It means everything to us, ”Taurasi said during the Today broadcast announcement on Monday. “I think sometimes you get caught in the story of the history of this team, and we try to bring it to the next generation, the young players. I think we’re really focused on what we need to do to get the gold.

Taurasi and Bird were teammates for two seasons in Connecticut, and in 2001-02 their team went 39-0 and won the NCAA Championship.

Considering the overwhelming strength of the U.S. women’s basketball program and the value of Bird’s experience, she could have been a worthwhile inclusion just to be available in an emergency and to provide leadership throughout the game. tournament process and during practices and matches.

MORE: Lochte is short for fifth Olympics bid

This is not what it is, however. Bird remains among the WNBA’s top pointers, averaging 11.4 points on 52.3 percent shots and 47.9 percent 3-point accuracy, as well as 6 assists per game, for the team that has won the 2020 League Championship and is 12-2 and first in the Western Conference in the 2021 season.

Taurasi, who can play both positions in the backcourt, averaged 18.7 points and 4.5 assists last season for the Phoenix Mercury. She has been limited to four games this season due to a chest injury, but still averages 15.8 points and 3.8 assists.

“I think the most important thing is that all 12 players in the roster stay healthy,” said head coach Dawn Staley. “There are a lot of players who are not on this list and who have helped us through the process. It has been a three to four year process for us. But you need a good mix.

“When you have the core of players who have competed in multiple Olympics, you have to add a mix of young people. And the youngsters that we added certainly made it known that they wanted to be part of the Olympic team, and they put the work behind it.

“We don’t want to be the team that ends this streak.”





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