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Leslie, Parker named to women's Olympic team

Veteran center will go for her fourth gold medal; WNBA rookie hopes to win her first.

June 01, 2008|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Candace Parker was 10 years old when she watched Lisa Leslie win her first Olympic gold medal in Atlanta.

Twelve years later, Parker gets a chance to help her Sparks teammate win an unprecedented fourth consecutive gold in the Beijing Olympics.

"I was sitting on my couch watching the 1996 Olympics with tears in my eyes saying I'm going to be there one day," Parker said.

They were two of the nine players placed on the U.S. women's basketball team Saturday. The announcement came before the Sparks' 70-59 victory over Washington in a WNBA game.

Also on the team are Olympic veterans Katie Smith, Tina Thompson, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird. This will be Smith's third Olympics. Cappie Pondexter, Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles and Parker will make their Olympic debuts.

"These nine players are no-brainers," U.S. Olympic Coach Anne Donovan said. "It's so exciting to have these nine players officially named to the team. It's such a great mixture of Olympic gold medalists with some really tremendous young talent."

Choosing the last three players won't be as easy. They will be chosen from the remaining pool of 20 and possible candidates include Kara Lawson, Swin Cash, Lindsey Harding and Lindsay Whalen.

"We're hoping to add a tough defensive stopper on the perimeter who can also score for us, as well as at least another post player," said Renee Brown, the USA Basketball vice president for senior women and chair of the selection committee.

One player the committee would love to have is Tamika Catchings, who has recovered slowly after tearing her right Achilles' tendon last September.

Catchings was part of the 2004 Olympic team in Athens.

"We'll wait and see when Catchings gets back on the floor," Brown said. "She's very important to USA basketball."

Another possibility is three-time Olympian Sheryl Swoopes, who is still recovering from a back injury.

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