Bird, Taurasi to lead U.S. women’s basketball team in Tokyo

June 21 (Reuters) – Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will compete in their fifth Olympics after being named on Monday in the U.S. women’s basketball squad who will bid for a seventh consecutive gold medal in Tokyo.

The two players headline a 12-member squad that includes six first-time Olympians and will be coached by Dawn Staley, a three-times gold medallist as a player, who helped start the U.S. gold medal run at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

By being named in the team on Monday, Taurasi and Bird, who won their first golds at the 2000 Sydney Games, will join an elite group of only six athletes worldwide, men or women, who have played in five Olympic basketball competitions.

“I’m honored to be the coach of such an amazing collection of talented women, both those named to the team and those who gave their all the last few years but won’t be with us in Tokyo,” Staley said in a news release.

“The fact that some of the players who won’t suit up this summer would start for any other country is a testament to their talent and to what USA Basketball has done to build a program that lifts up our female athletes every single day.”

The women’s basketball competition at the Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 26-Aug. 8.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto Editing by Toby Davis

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