Australia’s Olympic team’s chef de mission Nick Green named three-time Olympian and two-time WNBA champion Lauren Jackson as the country’s flag bearer for the 2012 London Olympics. Jackson, 31, debuted with the Australian national team, the Opals, when she was 17. The native of Albury, NSW, has three silver medals (2000, 2004 and 2008).
The speculation that Jackson would be the flag bearer ended a frenzy of betting in Australia on who would get the honor. As rumors escalated that Jackson would be the choice, bookmakers suspended betting.
Jackson is the 2nd basketball player to carry the Australian flag at the Olympics. She follows Andrew Gaze (2000 Sydney). The last woman to carry the flag for the country was diver Jenny Donnet in 1992 (Barcelona).
Both of Jackson’s parents played basketball for Australia. Her mother Maree also set several records in the late 1970s at Louisiana State University. The elder Jackson holds the LSU record for most rebounds in a game (25) and for most field goals made in a game (19). She also set the NCAA record for the quickest player to reach 1,000 points (1976-1978).
Jackson, a 6’5” (196 cm) forward/center for the Seattle Storm and three-time league MVP, missed the first half of the WNBA season to train with her national team. The Opals finished up a week of exhibition games last weekend with a loss to France. However, Jackson and two other players did not participate in that match.
The Opals hope to break their silver streak and win the gold this year with help from up-and-coming star center Liz Cambage (Tulsa Shock) alongside Jackson. The team is without the services of forward Penny Taylor who tore her ACL in EuroLeague play this past spring. Taylor is also missing the WNBA season and spending the summer rehabilitating in Arizona with her team, the Phoenix Mercury.
The Opals begin their quest for the gold with a match against hosts Great Britain on Saturday, July 28.