MELBOURNE, Australia – Australian basketball great Lauren Jackson is set to return to the national team at the age of 41 to win another World Championship medal.
Jackson, a seven-time WNBA All-Star who led Australia to a world title in 2006 and won four Olympic medals, hasn’t played for Opal for nine years, but was tempted to return to the women’s world championship on home soil in September.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on Tuesday quoted Jackson as saying she would join the Opals at a camp in Canberra, Australia’s capital, next week. She tweeted the article.
“It feels like I’m a child again, fighting for a position,” Jackson told the newspaper. “When I found out that I made the team, I had a moment of shock; now it’s a reality and I’m once again immersed in the thought of the competition to wear green-gold again.”
Basketball Australia later confirmed this on social media by posting their congratulations and saying “Lauren is an outstanding athlete and her return is a testament to the amount of work she has put in and her incredible competitive nature.”
The 6ft 5in Jackson retired ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics due to recurring knee problems but returned to the Australian National League earlier this year.
“I never expected to get to this point so every day that I pass here is a blessing and I truly feel like one of the happiest people in the world to get another chance after my career ended. ‘, Jackson said. “I was very careful… not to get excited and put pressure on myself.
“It’s been a very long road, but every milestone I’ve passed, I’ve gone through, ‘I didn’t think I’d get to this point.'”
Jackson was a three-time scoring champion and won two WNBA championships in 11 seasons with the Seattle Storm and was named Finals MVP in 2010. She has also won championship titles in Australia, Spain and Russia, as well as three Olympic silvers and one bronze, plus a gold and two bronze medals at the World Championships.
“With my size, height and playing experience, I think what I can bring to the team is invaluable in terms of leadership,” she said. “As soon as I step onto the basketball court, I feel pretty confident, it just happens naturally and has always been a part of who I am.
“I know I can instill that confidence in girls.”