WNBA star Liz Cambage has announced that she will not play for the Australian Opals at the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. In a short statement, Cambage explained that her decision was driven largely by mental health concerns.
"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," Camabge said.
"No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team. It's honestly terrifying for me. The past month I've been having panic attacks, not sleeping and not eating."
Dealing with anxiety is not unfamiliar territory for the WNBA star. In 2019, she missed time during the WNBA regular season due to bouts with anxiety and chronic panic attacks. As a result, she has sought professional medical assistance and began taking medication to help manage her anxiety.
"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," she added.
"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."
The Australian Olympic Committee has wished her well and hopes that time away from basketball will help her better manage her anxiety. In the immediate future, the Opals will search for a forward or center to replace Camabage's size. Standing at 6'8 and weighing more than 200 pounds, Cambage is one of the most physically imposing forces in women's basketball. Thus far, she's earned a spot in the 2021 WNBA All-Star Game while averaging 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Las Vegas Aces.
"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," a spokesperson for the Opals told CNN.
The 2021 Summer Olympics Games are set to begin on July 23 and run through August 8. Led by A'ja Wilson and Tina Charles, Team USA is favored to bring home another Olympic gold medal in women's basketball.
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