Basketball : Winning not always good as gold for U.S

Wed Aug 3, 2016 8:52pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - For every athlete who wins a gold medal at the Rio Olympics it will be a big deal. For the United States women's basketball team the big deal will be if they do not.

The U.S. women's team are one of the great Olympic dynasties, going for a sixth consecutive gold medal and riding a 41-0 unbeaten run that stretches back to the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

"What I hope happens is, that if we are fortunate enough to win a gold that it is a big deal instead of the big deal is, if we lose," said U.S. coach Geno Auriemma.

"They have done so much and probably because they have won so much they probably don't get the respect they truly deserve for how dominant they have been."

Since women's basketball became part of the Olympic program in 1976 the U.S. have lost just three games.

At London in 2012 in the preliminary round, only Croatia came within 25 points. In the quarter-finals the U.S. dismissed Canada 91-48 before seeing off biggest rivals Australia 86-73, then crushing an over matched France 86-50 in the final.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the U.S. women outscored opponents by an average of 35 points.

As the U.S. prepare for their Olympic opener against Senegal on Sunday, Auriemma said the current squad may be the best yet with nine of 12 players having already won gold medals.   Continued...

Women's basketball team members Elena Delle Donne (L-R), Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker, and Sue Bird prepare to pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson