The Opals’ chances of securing Olympic gold have taken a heavy blow, with four-time WNBA All-Star Liz Cambage withdrawing from the Tokyo Games due to mental health concerns.
Cambage dropped the bombshell news on Friday afternoon, declaring she is not mentally ready to cope with an Olympic Games in a “terrifying” biosecurity bubble.
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The 29-year-old claimed she has struggled to sleep and eat consistently over the past month, and has also been suffering panic attacks.
“Anyone that knows me knows one of my biggest dreams is winning an Olympic gold medal with the Opals. Every athlete competing in the Olympic Games should be at their mental and physical peak, and at the moment I’m a long way from where I want and need to be,” she wrote.
“It’s no secret that in the past I’ve struggled with my mental health and recently I’ve been really worried about heading into a ‘bubble’ Olympics. No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team. It’s honestly terrifying for me. The past month I have been having panic attacks, not sleeping and not eating.
My thoughts are with Liz! I hope she knows she is loved and appreciated.
This is a friendly reminder that mental health isn’t a joke! It’s as important, if not more, than how you look/feel physically!
Take care of yourselves! https://t.co/soYWxcMO5e
“Relying on daily medication to control my anxiety is not the place I want to be right now. Especially walking into competition on the world’s biggest sporting stage.
“I know myself, and I know I can’t be the Liz everyone deserves to see compete for the Opals. Not right now at least. I need to take care of myself mentally and physically.
“It breaks my heart to announce I’m withdrawing from the Olympics, but I think it’s best for the Opals and myself. I wish them nothing but the best of luck in Tokyo and I hope they go forth and win a gold medal. Love and light.”
Cambage received a flood of supportive messages following the bombshell announcement, with several pundits voicing their concern for the Australian.
Sports reporter Cindy Brunson tweeted: “This is heartbreaking & unvarnished all at once. Wishing Liz all the best.”
American broadcaster Chris Williamson posted: “Damn this is so sad but mental health is no joke. Gotta take care of her wellbeing before anything else.”
Sports reporter Lachlan McKirdy tweeted: “Really hope that Liz gets the support that she needs. No doubt she’ll cop a lot of criticism and abuse for this decision, she always does no matter what she does, and it’s from the usual suspects. But it’s brave for her to be so open about her battles with mental health.”
Rugby league icon Phil Gould posted: “Take care Liz. All good.”
Liz Cambage has tarnished the good name of Las Vegas.
No Liz Cambage or Ben Simmons at #Tokyo2020.
Can’t help but think this will be a ‘what if’ Olympics for both the Boomers and Opals… pic.twitter.com/RClj6L7wjJ
Australian Olympic Committee chef de mission Ian Chesterman said in a statement: “Liz has made a great contribution to the Australian Olympic Team over two Olympic Games campaigns. We respect her decision and wish her the best in returning to full health.
“Our focus now moves to working with the Opals so they can achieve the goals they have set for themselves in Tokyo. We know they are totally committed to achieving success in Tokyo and they will still bring an incredibly strong team to this campaign.”
The Opals have been preparing for the Tokyo Games at a pre-Olympic training camp in Las Vegas.
The Australian team is scheduled to play the USA in a warm-up game on Saturday.
According to a NewsCorp report, Cambage was involved in a physical altercation during a private scrimmage against Nigeria, which resulted in heated verbal abuse.
The two-time Olympian reportedly also broke team protocols to go out in Las Vegas, where she plays with the Aces in the WNBA, while it’s understood there is another incident being investigated by team officials.
Cambage’s behaviour has upset Australian teammates and officials, according to the report.
Liz Cambage has reportedly upset hr Opals teammates.Source:Getty Images
“At her best, Liz Cambage is one of the best couple of basketball players in the world,” Australian great Chris Anstey told SEN on Friday.
“At her worst, she’s unbearable to be around as a teammate.
“You kind of cross your fingers and hope a little bit with Liz.
“Clearly being in Vegas and being in COVID protocol hasn’t suited her personally.
“It‘s disappointing that they can’t stay in the bubble for a short period of time because it really can impact all their teammates, and I suppose us as a basketball public back home.”
Cambage has averaged 14.6 points and eight rebounds per game during her 19 appearances for the Aces in the WNBA this season.
– with NCA NewsWire
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