WNBA star Liz Cambage pulls out of Tokyo Olympics over mental, physical health concerns

WNBA star Liz Cambage withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics after an anxiety-riddled month in which she suffered from panic attacks and little sleep, she announced on social media Friday.

Cambage, 29, is a two-time Olympian with the Australian women’s basketball team known as the Opals. The team had been training in Las Vegas prior to the Tokyo Games. In a statement posted to Twitter on Friday, Cambage said she was prioritizing her mental and physical 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, 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,” she said in the statement.

Cambage said she has also been worried about isolation headed into the “bubble.”

“No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team,” she said. “It’s honestly terrifying for me. The past month I have been having panic attacks, not sleeping and not eating.”

Cambage also said she didn’t want to rely on daily medication to control her anxiety.

“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,” she said. “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.”

The center, a four-time All Star, averaged 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for her WNBA team the Las Vegas Aces. ESPN reported that her decision to pull out of the Olympics comes amid allegations that Cambage broke team protocols to go out in Las Vegas.

The Australian Olympic Committee on Friday said it was exploring the potential for a late replacement.

“Liz has made a great contribution to the Australian Olympic team over two Olympic Games campaigns,” Ian Chesterman, the Australian Olympic delegation leader in Tokyo, said in a statement. “We respect her decision and wish her the best in returning to full health.”

The USA men’s basketball team also suffered a setback on Friday. Kevin Love withdrew from the Olympics because of a right calf injury, which was first reported by ESPN. Love’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, confirmed the withdrawal by the Cleveland Cavalier. Love missed 46 games during the NBA season and averaged 12.2 points per game.

The American team on Thursday announced Washington Wizards All Star guard Bradley Beal would also miss the Olympics because he was in health and safety protocols.


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