Tokyo 2020 - Australia basketball star Liz Cambage pulls out of Olympics citing mental health concerns
Heartbroken Opals basketballer Liz Cambage has ruled herself out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics squad, prioritising her mental health over ‘terrifying’ fears of bubble life in Japan. “I’m a long way from where I want and need to be. I’m not the Liz everyone deserves to see compete for the Opals,” she said.
After a period of thorough consideration, Opals basketballer and four-time WNBA all-star Liz Cambage has decided to withdraw from Australia’s Tokyo 2020 camp due to mental health concerns.
The 29-year-old confirmed the news in a statement on Twitter this morning, nine days before the Games are set to get underway.
“Anyone that knows me knows one of my biggest dreams is winning an Olympic gold medal with the Opals. Every athlete competing at 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 said.
It breaks my heart to announce I’m withdrawing from the Olympics
Cambage admitted she was ‘terrified’ at the thought of heading into a bubble at the Olympics with a limited support network around her.
“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.”
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 01: Liz Cambage of the Opals poses during a Basketball Australia media opportunity with the Australian Opals at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on July 01, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Imag
Image credit: Eurosport
The absence of the four-time WNBA All-Star comes as a huge blow for the Australian side, who are eyeing-up a podium finish after ending Rio 2016 in fifth place.
Australian Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman commented:
Liz has made a great contribution to the Australian Olympic Team over two Olympic Games. 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 two-time Olympian opened up about her recent struggles keeping her from stepping onto the court this summer.
“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.”
Cambage, Olympic bronze medallist at London 2012, previously threatened to boycott the Games after speaking out over a lack of racial diversity in Australia’s Olympic photoshoots, but later decided she would continue to compete at her third Games after accusing the Australian Olympic committee of ‘whitewashing’.
ESPN reported she was involved in a physical alteration as well as ‘charging verbal exchange’ during a warm-up game versus Nigeria.
She is the Aces most prolific player, averaging 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game during the 2021 WNBA season, and was unsurprisingly named a 2021 WNBA All-Star.
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 7: Liz Cambage #8 of the Las Vegas Aces shoots a free throw against the Phoenix Mercury on July 7, 2021 at the Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or
Image credit: Eurosport
She signed off her statement by wishing her team-mates the best of luck in their upcoming Tokyo venture, hoping they can get back to winning ways on the Olympic stage.
Rio 2016 was the first Games in five years the Opals failed to land a podium finish.
The Australian Olympic Committee will look to recruit a late replacement for Cambage, with only 11 players currently travelling to Tokyo.
They’re scheduled to begin their Tokyo 2020 campaign against Belgium on Tuesday 27 July.
Watch every unmissable moment from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games live on Discovery+ and the Eurosport app