Did you know…
Montreal (Quebec, Canada), one of the most beautiful and modern venues in the Western Hemisphere, hosted the first Olympic women’s basketball tournament in 1976. Six countries competed for the gold medal, including the Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Japan. The international competition was won by the national women’s team of the Soviet Union (present-day Russia). Just a year earlier, the Soviet team had come first in the 7th World Championship in Cali, Colombia (South America), beating Japan in the gold medal match. Meanwhile, on July 23, 1976, America won second place in the multisport event after losing to the USSR (led by its international star Uljana Semjonova) 112-77, having won the right to participate in the XXIII Olympiad by winning the first FIBA Women’s Basketball Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in Hamilton (Ontario, Canada). The silver medalists were Lusia Harris, Cindy Brogdon, Susan Rojcewicz, Ann Meyers, Julienne Simpson, Patricia Head, Mary Anne O’Connor, Patricia Roberts, Gail Marquis, Nancy Lieberman, Charlotte Lewis and Nancy Dunkle. The US team began their pre-Olympic preparation after winning the VI Pan American Cup in Mexico City in October 1975.
Under the leadership of Semjonova, the USSR, host country, won the Olympic tournament in Moscow in 1980, followed by Bulgaria (silver medal), Yugoslavia (bronze), Hungary (4th), Cuba (5th) and Italy (6th). It was the second Olympian victory for the USSR (also known as the Soviet Union during the Cold War). On the other hand, Latvian giant Uljana Semjonova was the most outstanding basketball player in Moscow 80. For the following years, 7-foot-1, 284-pound Semjonova was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Maryland, the first player from the former USSR to accomplish this feat.
Los Angeles 1984
For the first time ever, the US women’s basketball team won the Olympic championship in Southern California. The People’s Republic of China won the silver medal. The bronze medal went to the Republic of Korea; Teams from Eastern Europe did not participate in the 1984 Olympiad due to the boycott of Moscow. On their way to the Los Angeles Games, the US team – with notable sportswomen such as Janice Lawrence, Cheryl Miller and Lynette Woodard – won the IX Pan American Sports Games on Venezuelan soil in August 1983. In Venezuela, the America beat Cuba 100-82 (43-38) to win the Pan American gold medal. A few weeks ago, they almost won the FIBA World Cup on Brazilian soil.
On October 29, 1988, in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, the US women’s team won the gold medal in the Olympic event, after finishing first at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, California. In the final, they beat Yugoslavia 77-70 (42-36). Nevertheless, the “most exciting game” was when America, led by its All-Star player Teresa Edwards, defeated the Soviet Union 102-88 (50-39) on October 27 (semi-final). The United States won the Olympian Trophy with the following world-class players: Suzanne McConnell, Cynthia Cooper, Jennifer Gillom, Katrina McClaim, Andrea Lloyd, Victoria Bullett, Bridgette Gordon, Teresa Weatherspoon, Anne Donovan, Cynthia Brown, Mary Ethridge and Miss Edwards. Two years ago, in 1986, they won the world tournament in the Russian capital of Moscow. In the second half of the twentieth century, American Edwards made history by winning four gold medals at the Summer Games from the 1980s to the early 2000s: Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney. 2000. Uljana Semjonova (Latvia), Hortencia Fatima Marcari (Brazil) and Edwards are considered the most famous players in Olympian history.
Atlanta Games 1996
A miracle happened in Atlanta in 1996! Despite a bloody civil war, where more than four million people were massacred (and thousands of girls were raped), the African Republic of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo / DRC) has incredibly qualified as one of the 12 best teams in the World at the Games of the 26th Olympiad in the United States, setting an example for several third world countries, from Peru and the Philippines to India and Brunei Darussalam. It was without a doubt the “most memorable moment in Zaire’s sporting history”. After receiving support from Dikembe Mutumbo, an American star player of Congolese origin, the African team traveled to Atlanta. From an Olympian perspective, the Zaire team should be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 2004 Olympic tournament was won by the United States of America followed by Australia (silver medal), Russia (bronze), Brazil (4th), Czech Republic (5th), l ‘Spain (6th), Greece (7th), New Zealand (8th)), People’s Republic of China (9th), Japan (10th place), Nigeria (11th) and South Korea (12th) . In the Greek capital of Athens, the United States won their third gold medal for the third time in a row – the most wins in the Olympic basketball tournament by a women’s team. Oddly enough, Nigerian basketball player Mfon Udoka was the league’s second top scorer with 21.7 points.