Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings has been named to her fourth U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team. Alongside fellow tri-captains Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, Catchings hopes to join an elite club with Teresa Edwards and Lisa Leslie who are currently the only American basketball players, male or female, to earn four Olympic gold medals.
Ironically, Catchings won her first gold medal (FIBA U19 World Championship in 1997) in Brazil, where the 2016 Olympics will be conducted. Should the USA win a record sixth consecutive gold medal in women’s basketball, Catchings would be the oldest (she turns 37 in July) gold medalist in U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball history.
Catchings Reacts to Making Fourth Olympic Team —
Q&A With Tamika Catchings —
You started playing for USA Basketball in 1996 and are getting ready to play on your last team this summer. What does that mean to you?
Wow. It’s absolutely amazing and definitely an honor to be able to represent the USA one last time, especially knowing from the beginning, where I started on the junior team and my goal of being an Olympian. And now here I am with the opportunity of being on a fourth Olympic team. I definitely would never have dreamed that, but it is definitely so rewarding, and I’m just honored. I truly am honored.
With your fourth Olympic team selection, you are among the pantheon of women’s basketball athletes. Prior to 2016, only Teresa Edwards (5) and Lisa Leslie (4) have been on four Olympic teams. What are your thoughts on that?
To even have our names be in the same sentence with those two, it’s just amazing. For me, Lisa and Dawn (Staley) and Sheryl (Swoopes), that era right there, those were the people that I looked up to. And with Teresa, being able to develop a great relationship with her, just to be mentioned in the same line, all the great things that they did in their careers, it’s just one of those things where you’re just in awe. Now you’re in such a prestigious group, where it used to be two and now there are five of us who will be able to go through that. It’s definitely so rewarding. It’s such a blessing.
Take us through your journey from being a rookie on the USA National Team to now being a veteran athlete. How has your role changed and what will you pass along to the rookies this summer?
The person I learned from the most was Dawn (Staley). Until I was around her I never really knew from a player’s standpoint what a true leader was. I’ve had people around me who have been great and helped guide me, but as far as my first time with the USA senior team, it was definitely Dawn. She taught me how leaders carry themselves, how leaders are able to bring all different players together to focus on one goal. I think that that’s the same thing for Diana (Taurasi), Sue (Bird) and I. I look at it myself more so, because I know I am done. I don’t know what’s going on with them, but really the passion that I play with, how hard that I play, the effort that I give … I always try to give 110 percent. Being professional, representing the USA, the way we carry ourselves and the way we act, every single thing about us plays into, whether we’re with the USA team or whether we are with our own WNBA teams or overseas or whatever the case may be, I’ve always told our Olympians and I’ve always told our players, once you’re on this Olympic team you represent the USA no matter where you are. That is a huge responsibility. For me when I walk away, the way that I played and the way that I worked with every single player who’s come through that USA Basketball family, I just want to be known as a great leader as far as caring about everybody and doing what I’m supposed to do on the court and off the court as well.