Basketball is usually one of the hot ticket items at each
Olympic Games and in Rio expect this to be no different. As one of the few
mainstream professional sports included within the Olympic roster, both men’s
and women’s competitions tend to attract a star assortment of athlete talent.
At Olympic level, 12 nations vie for bragging rights in both
men’s and women’s competitions, with matches played across four 10min quarters.
Teams are split into two groups of a round robin format, before branching into
elimination quarter final, semi final and medal round matches.
To suggest the USA enjoys success at Olympic level would be
a bit like saying that Bolt bloke runs quite fast. Between their men’s and
women’s squads, since the sport first appeared at the 1936 Games, they’ve won a
combined 21 gold medals, and have even coined their men’s squad the "Dream
Team” after some reasonable players like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson
scraped into the squad in Barcelona 1992. As we said before, hot ticket!!
Whilst not quite at the enviable standard of USA’s success,
Australia’s women’s team have proven themselves to be no mugs at the top level
either – with the Opals having won medals at every Games stretching back to
Atlanta 1996. This run bookended bronze medals in 96 and most recently in
London, with three consecutive silver medals in Sydney, Athens and Beijing in
between. In Rio, the opals are again preparing to come home with a medal.
Australia’s Opals have been grouped with hosts Brazil,
Turkey, France, Japan and Belarus in Rio, with the USA in the other group,
joined by; Serbia, Canada, Senegal, China and Spain.
The Opals’ squad of 12 includes Western Australian Natalie
Burton, who will make her Olympic debut in Rio.
Burton plays in the Australian league with the Perth Lynx
and at 194cm, provides a pivotal role for the Opals at both ends of the court.
To follow Burton’s progress in Brazil, view her bio below,
including information on when she will be in action in Rio.