Seattle Storm Star Lauren Jackson to miss 1st half of 2012 season to train for the Olympics

Lauren Jackson, a star forward for the Seattle Storm, is putting her country first in 2012. She announced that she would miss the first three months of the WNBA season next year in order to train with the Australian national team, the Opals, to help bolster their quest for an Olympic gold medal.

“I am so excited about having the Opals as my only priority and commitment,” said Jackson in a statement released through Basketball Australia. “I truly believe that this is the perfect preparation for the Jayco Opals to achieve history through winning Olympic gold.”

Storm head Brian Agler supports Jackson’s decision.

"Lauren is one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever coached, so I can appreciate her drive to win a gold medal,” said Agler. “Lauren is key to the Opals’ pursuit of a gold medal and we respect her decision. We will be ready to start the 2012 season without her and will welcome her back after the Olympics."

Jackson’s arrangement resulted from negotiations between Basketball Australia, her management and the Seattle Storm. She will rejoin the Storm after the conclusion of the London Olympic Games. Basketball competition at the games runs from July 28 to August 11.

"We appreciate the open dialogue we’ve had with Lauren and her representatives on this matter over the past weeks,” said Seattle Storm CEO Karen Bryant. “While we will miss her for the beginning of the season we are in full support of Lauren’s decision."

Basketball Australia’s review of the Opals’ performance in 2010 initiated discussions about making an effort to have the team’s players train together for an extended period of time before the Olympics in order to increase their chances of a medal.

“This Basketball Australia mid-term review clearly identified that the strategy needed for the future success of the Jayco Opals in London revolved around a concentrated preparation campaign,” said John Maddock, an official with the organization . “The support of the Australian Sports Commission has allowed us to address this.”

The Opals won the silver in 2000, 2004, and 2008.

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