31 March 2016
Australian Institute of Sport Director Matt Favier has paid tribute to retiring basketball star Lauren Jackson, declaring her as one of the nation’s greatest female sporting icons and the “epitome of the AIS”.
Jackson, 34, announced her retirement at the AIS in Canberra, the same place she arrived as a 15-year-old to jump-start what would become one of the greatest careers in women’s international basketball.
“Lauren Jackson is the epitome of AIS athlete development, she is a basketball superstar and she is an Australian sporting icon who leaves a legacy for future generations of athletes across all sports, particularly for women,” Favier said.
“Lauren arrived at the AIS as a teenager with big dreams, but it is phenomenal to consider how many of those dreams she achieved over a long and distinguished career. She has won numerous titles as a dominant player in Australia and America, while her unwavering commitment to the Australian Opals has represented more than half her life.
“In the past few months Lauren returned to the AIS for rehabilitation, determined to try and fight through injury and prolong her career. Lauren carried the Australian flag in the opening ceremony at the 2012 London Olympics and unfortunately won’t get the final chance to play alongside her Australian Opals teammates at the 2016 Rio Olympics. But her impact on the team and her legacy on Australian basketball will endure for many years to come.
“Lauren has always been respectful of the female athletes who came before her and laid the foundation for the further professionalism in women’s basketball. She has continued to advance that and has inspired more gender equity across sport. Many young girls growing up now and aspiring to play elite sport in the future will be able to look at the influence of Lauren Jackson and say thank you.”
Jackson arrived at the AIS as a 15-year-old and, in 1998, led what was supposed to be a development team to an historic Women’s National Basketball League title. She was acknowledged as one of the “Best of the Best” at the 25th anniversary celebrations of the AIS.
The AIS continues to invest in the development of Australian athletes and has just completed a $750,000 re-flooring project for its Basketball-Netball training hall in Canberra, home to Basketball Australia and the world champion Australian Diamonds netball team.
“The Australian Sports Commission, via the AIS, is focused on investing in the future of Australian sport and building sustained success,” Favier said.
“The Opals have been on the medal dais at every Olympics since claiming a silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Games. It was 10 years ago that Lauren Jackson was part of the Australian Opals team that won the 2006 world championships in Brazil, this year the Opals return to Brazil as Olympic medal contenders again. The Opals are one of the most consistent performers in international women’s basketball.”