Cambage won't be silenced at Tokyo Games

·3-min read

Basketball superstar Liz Cambage will be free to show her passion on and off the court at the Tokyo Olympics, having been locked in to spearhead Australia's bid for an elusive gold medal.

Cambage, who took part in London 2012 and Rio 2016, is the most experienced member of the 12-strong squad named on Wednesday.

The imposing centre and Rebecca Allen will link with the national side for the first time in 16 months at a pre-Games camp in Las Vegas, which will serve as the Opals' final match practice before flying to Japan.

Cambage, who was born in London to an Australian mother and a Nigerian father, has been a vocal advocate regarding racism, discrimination and other issues.

There had been speculation as to whether the 29-year-old would compete in Tokyo after publicly condemning a photo shoot of Australian Olympians as being "whitewashed", asking how was she meant to represent a country that doesn't represent her.

Opals coach Sandy Brondello and captain Jenna O'Hea made it clear on Wednesday they felt Cambage's participation was never in doubt, both highlighting her passion to win the side's first Olympic gold medal.

Brondello, who like Cambage is on duty in the WNBA, spoke with her after the social-media post went viral and declared "we support you in voicing your opinion".

Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman is yet to speak with Cambage but conceded "she made a valid point".

"It's important that athletes feel free to speak about issues close to their heart. We fully support that," Chesterman told AAP.

"It's not something we, as an Olympic movement, want to silence."

Brondello, a four-time Olympian, noted Cambage replied with "a very quick yes" when she sought clarification regarding Tokyo 2021.

"There was never any pressure, I'm not going to force anybody to play for her country," Brondello said.

"She loves the Opals, these are all her sisters ... she's super motivated and ready to win that gold.

"Liz is passionate about a lot of things off the court and we totally support that."

Cambage recently found herself in the headlines, having been subjected to a remark about her weight during an WNBA match that led to a fine and suspension for Connecticut Sun coach Curt Miller.

"The consequences were felt there," Brondello said as her Phoenix Mercury prepared to face Cambage's Las Vegas Aces.

"If someone treats her badly in that regard, why shouldn't she stand up?"

Australia were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of Rio, having collected silver or bronze at the preceding five Olympics.

The Opals, ranked second in the world and silver medallists at the 2018 World Cup, have a clear goal in mind ahead of an Olympic campaign that begins on July 27.

"We're capable of that gold medal," Brondello said.

O'Hea, Katie Ebzery, Cayla George, Tessa Lavey, Leilani Mitchell, Stephanie Talbot, Marianna Tolo will all be competing at their second Olympics.

Allen, Tess Madgen, Eziyoda Magbegor and Alanna Smith have been selected in their first Olympics side.

Opals squad for Olympics: Rebecca Allen, Liz Cambage, Katie Ebzery, Cayla George, Tessa Lavey, Tess Madgen, Ezi Magbegor, Leilani Mitchell, Jenna O'Hea, Alanna Smith, Stephanie Talbot, Marianna Tolo.

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