One day after the Team USA men’s basketball team won gold by defeating France, the women’s team secured its gold medals Sunday (Aug. 8) clobbering the Tokyo Olympics host Team Japan 90-75.
As expected, Team USA cruised past the competition on its way to its seventh consecutive gold medal. The women’s national team has won an impressive 55 consecutive Olympic games and veteran guards Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi have been a huge part of the team’s success. On Sunday (Aug. 8), both Bird and Taurasi chipped in seven points apiece to help their team. They’ve won five gold medals and fans may have just witnessed the duo’s last Olympic game together. Olympics.com confirmed Bird has retired from Olympic basketball.
“It’s been a tremendous journey,” Taurasi said after the game. “It’s 20 years of sacrifice, of putting everything else aside and just wanting to win. It’s never easy playing on this team, the pressure, but this group found a way to win, and I am just happy that this group got to enjoy it.”
“Hopefully we’ve left a legacy with the younger players where they now can carry that torch,” Bird added. Two of those younger players poised to carry the torch are 30-year-old Brittany Griner and 25-year-old A’ja Wilson. Griner scored a game-high 30 points on 14-on-18 shooting. According to ESPN, it was the most points ever in a gold-medal game for an American.
“Credit to my teammates,” Griner said. “They believed in me and in the coaching staff for leaving me out there. I have to just give credit to everybody else, I couldn’t have done it without them. And you know, it’s just you never know when it’s going to be your night to step up, and tonight was my night I guess to kind of step up a little bit.”
Wilson scored 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had five assists. She was the team’s best player on most nights averaging 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 59 percent throughout her first Olympic Games. “Oh, to be a gold medalist now, on my birthday, it’s something that’s so special,” Wilson said. “It’s probably not going to hit me until I get back to the states. But this is something that I’ve dreamed of. l would have a birthday party on 08-08-08 and now to be playing in it, it’s incredible, and on 08-08, it is truly something special. So, this is a great feeling.”
Team USA head coach Dawn Staley — who made history as the first Black U.S. women’s basketball coach — has been a part of six of the consecutive gold medals as both a player and coach. She announced after the game she will step down as head coach. “Our country has a lot of great coaches that can get the job done,” she said. “Me, being a part of I believe six, that’s enough. I’m full.”