Tamika Catchings Ready to Lead in Rio

As she prepares to play in her fourth Olympic Games next month in search of her fourth gold medal, Tamika Catchings is no stranger to the relatively short amount of time dedicated to practice and strategy before departing for the games.

Catchings is joined on the team by Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi as the only players set to compete in their fourth Olympics, and they know nothing other than bringing home the gold as they did in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

USA Basketball caught up with Catchings after two practices last weekend to discuss how the team builds chemistry, and what these Olympic Games mean to her.

On the first day of practice:
First day was great, just really getting out here and getting your mind wrapped around the plays and stuff. We went over a couple of the plays out of bounds – side out of bounds, under out of bounds, that kind of deal, but I think the energy is up. Everybody is kind of ready.

How does it feel to represent your country again?
It always feels good. It’s truly an honor to be able to come out here. It’s a blessing to be able to represent our country and go out there and know that we’re going to come out every single day and prepare and get ready because we don’t have much time.

How will the Select Team help you?
Well, it’s cool. Of course, a couple of my teammates are on the team. But looking at that young talent, and looking at how the USA team is picked and all the different stages that go into it. All of these young players will have an opportunity. They’ve already competed on some type of junior Olympic team, but they’ll have an opportunity to be on the senior team one day. So I think it’s a great matchup. It will be a lot of fun, the older players against a lot of our up and coming talent.

On representing her country:
Between Lisa [Leslie], Dawn [Staley] and Sheryl [Swoopes], I just remember them and how you carry yourself as an Olympian and how you always are prepared and how there’s all this extra stuff that going on. But even through that you have to focus and maintain your focus throughout the game because of our lack of practice time and lack of being together. We kind of have to grow really fast and you’ve got to make sure you’re 100 percent here every single moment you step on the court.

On Team USA’s chemistry:
It’s that mutual respect and just knowing what each person brings to the table. I don’t have to doubt that Sue [Bird] and D [Diana Taurasi] are going to be ready; they don’t have to doubt that I’m going to be ready. We just have to make sure, as the leaders and captains of this team, make sure that our team is ready to go.

On the opportunity to win a fourth gold medal:
That’s what we’re here for. I think just going back to my first time. Dawn said, ‘we don’t leave here without the gold.’ And that’s kind of been the mindset from the first time that I came to the fourth time. I’m super excited about the opportunity to represent my country one last time and to be out here with some amazing players young and old, and I like being able to pass that torch on to the next generation.

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