Team USA has fulfilled its destiny.
On Saturday, the US won its seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal with a 90-75 win over Japan. Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi became the first basketball players ever to win five gold medals.
“Not in my wildest dreams,” Bird said when asked if she thought she could win five gold medals. “That’s what makes it even more special. I never thought it was a possibility.”
“We were just asked, ‘What did you think in 2004 when you won your first one?’ I thought that was our last one,” Taurasi added. “Fast-forward 17 years and to be able to do this five times, I think it’s a testament to USA Basketball culture, the great players we played with, coaches and staff. There’s a lot of people to thank today.”
Sue Bird gets her fifth (!!!) gold medal pic.twitter.com/HkC2FvRpm4— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) August 8, 2021
It’s still special every time— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 8, 2021
Neither player lost a single game in their Olympic careers, going 38-0.
Bird scored seven points to go with three rebounds and three assists in her final Olympic game while Taurasi had seven points, eight assists, and six rebounds. Japan had no answer for Breanna Stewart’s size as she finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks. Tina Charles and Napheesa Collier grabbed one rebound each.
This is Charles’ third gold medal, Stewart’s second, and Collier’s first. Collier becomes the 11th former UConn player to win an Olympic gold medal as a player, joining Rebecca Lobo (1996), Kara Wolters (2000), Bird (2004, ‘08, ‘12, ‘16, ‘20), Swin Cash (2004, ‘12), Taurasi (2004, ‘08, ‘12, ‘16, ‘20), Charles (2012, ‘16, ‘20), Asjha Jones (2012), Maya Moore (2012, ‘16), Stewart (2016, ‘20) and Stefanie Dolson (3x3, 2020).
Jen Rizzotti also received a gold medal as an assistant coach on Dawn Staley’s staff.
“It’s a blessing. I’m so thankful to be a part of USA Basketball and to have had the experience that I’ve had with such amazing women, I get choked up,” Charles said.
“It’s really actually something you can’t explain, but the fact that you were able to kind of feel these emotions beyond the podium with our teammates, celebrate this gold,” Stewart said. “The journey wasn’t easy, but to be able to get here, get the gold, we took care of business.”
“It was amazing,” Collier said on winning gold. “It was such an unbelievable experience. And I just feel like I’m on a high right now.”
Bird already announced that these will be her final Olympics and while many anticipate these will also be the last games for Taurasi as well, she didn’t close the door on the possibility.
“See you in Paris,” she told NBC postgame.
UConn gold medal champagne pics are my fav genre of art pic.twitter.com/wBUQEhISwN— A Dime Back (@ADimeBack) August 8, 2021
Williams, France take bronze
Gabby Williams is an Olympic medalist, earning a bronze medal with France.
The former UConn star helped France defeat Serbia in the third-place game, 91-76. Williams did her usual damage, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. In six Olympic games, she averaged 10.6 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Gabby Williams gets her bronze medal pic.twitter.com/yjpt0RxO3c— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) August 8, 2021
“What an adventure with an amazing group. It’s difficult to find the words, I am overwhelmed with emotions, but above all I am proud to be French!! WE HAVE AN OLYMPIC MEDAL!!!,” she wrote on Twitter in French.
quelle aventure avec un groupe incroyable. c’est difficile de chercher les mots, je suis submergée d’émotions , mais surtout je suis fière d’être française !! ON A UNE MÉDAILLE OLYMPIQUE !!! pic.twitter.com/Cv3Dt09Xwo— spooky g (@gabbywilliams15) August 7, 2021
Williams’ sister got in on the fun, too.
When you made the most of being suspended pic.twitter.com/fR3VDafL0r— Kayla Williams (@Killaakayyyyy) August 7, 2021
Williams is the second former UConn player to win a bronze medal. Svetlana Abrosimova earned one with Russia in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.