EKATERINBURG (2008 Beijing Olympics) - The women's basketball tournament at the Beijing Olympics will tip off in less than 10 months and Australia will have as good a chance as any team to capture gold.
Jan Stirling's team captured the title at the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women and will be among the favorites in China.
Four of the country's players are competing in Russia's Women's Superleague, and three are in the squad at powerhouse Ekaterinburg - the hosts of the FIBA Women's World League just last month.
Kristi Harrower, the Australian national team point guard, helped Ekaterinburg to a third place finish in the world league and now she is helping the team as they go for championships in the EuroLeague Women and Russia.
She spoke to Jeff Taylor this week and answered a few questions for FIBA.
FIBA: Kristi, the FIBA Women's World League was hosted by Ekaterinburg last month. Your team did not win, but overall, was the tournament a success in Ekaterinburg?
Kristi Harrower: "I think the tournament was great. You got to see some of the EuroLeague teams before the season started."
FIBA: What was good about the event, and what changes would you like to see made?
Kristi Harrower: "I don't think I would actually change anything. I thought Ekaterinburg did a great job hosting the tournament and we got to see some really high quality games."
FIBA: "We caught up with your national team coach, Jan Stirling, in Chieti this summer at the EuroBasket Women and she was scouting possible Beijing Games opponents of Australia. What does this event mean for you?"
Kristi Harrower: "The Olympics is the ultimate goal for every basketball and it is everyone's dream to represent your country at an Olympics games. I know the last two Olympics that I have been to, I have wanted to be in the best possible shape and play the best I could so when the tournament was finished, I didn't want to have any regrets. And I think I have done that so the next Olympics I will be approaching it the same way."
FIBA: What can we expect of Australia in Beijing?
Kristi Harrower: "I think with the Opals, because we have finally won a gold medal, we now know that it is possible and it's in our own hands to perform at the Olympics and try and win the first ever Olympic gold for basketball in Australia. I know with the USA finishing third at the worlds, they will be more hungry to win the gold medal at the Olympics. It will be exciting times and something I am really looking forward too."
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images