Opals legend Michele Timms believes Elizabeth Cambage exit from the Games may be for the best
Opals legend Michele Timms believes Elizabeth Cambage’s exit from the Tokyo Olympics may be for the best, claiming the WNBA All-Star has “tarnished” the reputation of the Australian women’s national basketball team.
Last week Cambage withdrew from the team for the Tokyo Olympics citing health reasons, but since then Basketball Australia officially opened an investigation for what has been deemed a “breach of the integrity framework and code of conduct”.
Cambage confirmed that she was involved in a physical altercation during the pre-Olympics scrimmage against Nigeria, but suggested that rumours surrounding the incident have gotten out of hand.
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Timms, who coached Cambage at Bulleen, didn’t comment on the Las Vegas Aces star’s heartbreaking mental health admission, but was critical of her behaviour in general.
“It’s obviously a huge disappointment,” Timms, who is in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, told SEN.
“But it’s getting to a stage, where I’ve certainly said it, that enough is enough.
“Prior to this, Liz has tarnished something that we’ve worked so hard for, the players who have come before that wore the green and gold have worked so hard on the culture and the way we want to be remembered in the community and the legacy that players before us have left.
“It was hugely disappointing to see the behaviour of Liz and what apparently has gone on.
“Once again, she’s brought the green and gold and the Opals into the spotlight for the wrong reasons.”
Timms extraordinarily said she would prefer to see the Opals miss out on an Olympic medal than have their reputation jeopardised.
“To me personally, I can’t speak for anyone else, but enough’s enough – we can’t accept this anymore,” Timms said.
“Quite frankly, I’d rather not win a medal than win this way with someone who is constantly in the news for the wrong reasons unfortunately.
“When your teammates get together and say, ‘Enough’s enough’, that’s the biggest indicator that you’re not acting as expected in a team situation.”
In a statement confirming her departure from the Opals Olympic squad, Cambage said she “wished the team well” as she focuses on her health.
“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,” she said.
“I’m a long way from where I want and need to be.
“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.
“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,” she concluded.
Timms played in the WNBA from 1997-2001 and made the All-Star team in 1999. She also represented Australia at the Olympics in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, winning bronze and silver medals.
Despite Cambage expressing her support for the team, Timms said she would not select the centre for the Opals in the future.
“I would say no, there’d have to be a lot of change on her behalf,” Timms said.
“If it was me, and if I had anything to do with it, I’m not sure I’d want her back in the green and gold until she can change her ways a little bit.”
The Opals begin their Olympic campaign in Tokyo next Tuesday against Belgium at 6.20pm (AEST).
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