Liz Cambage Withdraws from 2021 Olympics to 'Take Care' of Mental Health

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 16, 2021

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 20: Elizabeth Cambage of the Flyers warms up during the WNBL Grand Final match between the Southside Flyers and the Townsville Fire at the Townsville Stadium, on December 20, 2020, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Liz Cambage announced Friday she's withdrawn from the Australian women's basketball team for the Tokyo Olympics because of mental health concerns related to the Games' "bubble" environment.

Elizabeth Cambage @ecambage

<a href="https://t.co/QheDPQ5tBZ">pic.twitter.com/QheDPQ5tBZ</a>

ESPN's Olgun Uluc reported Cambage's status for the Olympics was already in question after she was involved in a physical altercation and "charged verbal exchange" during a closed-door exhibition against Nigeria.

The 29-year-old center has been a fixture on the Australian squad since 2009, highlighted by helping the Opals win a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London, where she was born before moving to Australia at a young age.

She also took part in the 2016 Rio Games, where the Aussies posted a perfect 5-0 record in group play before getting stunned by Serbia in the quarterfinals.

Cambage was the second overall pick in the 2011 WNBA draft. She's made four All-Star appearances across stints with the Tulsa Shock, Dallas Wings and Las Vegas Aces. She's played for the Aces since 2019, though she sat out the 2020 season, which was also played in a "bubble" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The veteran post player has averaged 14.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting 54.3 percent from the floor across 19 games for the Aces in 2021.

Ian Chesterman, the Australian Olympic Committee's chef de mission for the Tokyo Games, released a statement about Cambage's decision to withdraw, per ESPN.

"Liz has made a great contribution to the Australian Olympic Team over two Olympic Games campaigns. We respect her decision and wish her the best in returning to full health," Chesterman said. "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 a incredibly strong team to this campaign."

Australia resides in Group C alongside Belgium, China and Puerto Rico. The Opals' first Olympic game is scheduled for July 27 when they face the Belgians.

The women's basketball tournament at the Games is slated to run through Aug. 8. The Aces return to WNBA play Aug. 15 against the Washington Mystics.


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