MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Liz Cambage was an “annoying” campaigner to bring back the iconic green-and-gold bodysuits worn by Australia’s Olympic women basketballers and she says the sleek uniforms could give them an edge as they hunt for a maiden gold at Tokyo.
The bodysuits had their Games debut in 1996 at Atlanta, where the ‘Opals’ claimed the country’s first Olympic basketball medal, but made way for looser fitting kits at the 2012 London Games and five years ago at Rio.
The 6ft-8in (2.03m) Cambage is looking forward to going back to the future at Tokyo, where Australia will be a threat to the powerful United States’ bid for a seventh successive Olympic gold.
“Yes I would like to say I was the driving, annoying force behind that but a lot of the girls did want it back,” United States-based Cambage said of the bodysuits after being presented with her Olympic ticket by Opals coach Sandy Brondello.
“The older generations got rid of it, they weren’t really into it, but us young ones, we wanted it back.
“I’m just super excited …. and we’re going to look really good in it. You can’t hold our jerseys, you can’t pull on us. And it makes you want to be in tip-top shape as well.”
Australia were knocked out of the quarter-finals at Rio, breaking a streak of medalling at every Games from 1996-2012. They were runners-up to the United States at the 2018 World Cup and are confident of returning to the podium at Tokyo.
Las Vegas Aces centre Cambage, who won bronze with Australia at London, said the team had the “Opals sisterhood” back after losing it in the leadup to a disappointing finish at Rio.
“That’s it, chemistry. Once we group together, we’ll get (gold),” she said.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)