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Basketball Star Pulls Out of Olympics, Cites Mental Health

Australia's Liz Cambage says the Tokyo Games are 'terrifying' for her
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2021 12:07 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Olympics haven't started yet, but Australia is already down one player on its women's basketball team. USA Today reports that Liz Cambage, a center who plays for the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces, has pulled out of the Games, just a week before the opening ceremony. Her reason: She wants to look after her mental health. "Anyone that knows me knows one of my biggest dreams is winning an Olympic gold medal with the Opals," Cambage wrote Friday on Twitter, referencing Australia's national women's team. But "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." Cambage noted past struggles with her mental health and revealed she'd been getting increasingly anxious about heading into an Olympic "bubble" without her usual support system.

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"It's honestly terrifying for me," the 29-year-old wrote, adding that she's been having trouble eating and sleeping and even suffering from panic attacks. "Relying on daily medication to control my anxiety is not the place I want to be right now." The Australian Olympic Committee confirmed the news to ESPN, which says sources indicated Cambage, the Opals' "most prolific player," had been involved in a physical altercation during a closed warm-up session with the Nigerian team in Las Vegas. Other allegations have emerged that Cambage went out in Sin City, breaching team protocols. Ian Chesterman of the AOC said Friday that Basketball Australia was looking into the alleged altercation, per Yahoo Sports. He didn't link that to her departure, however, simply stating, "We respect her decision and wish her the best in returning to full health," per ESPN. (Read more Tokyo Olympics stories.)

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