Category: Front News Headline, Capitals & Gunners News, Newsletter
By: Andrew Webster
Opal superstar Jackson sacrifices motherhood
OPALS superstar Lauren Jackson has opened up about how she has sacrificed motherhood and relationships in the pursuit of a gold medal at four Olympic Games.
In the most candid interview of her career, to be aired on ESPN tonight, the notoriously private 31-year-old says she has contemplated walking away from basketball in return for a "normal life".
"It's really difficult being a female and being a professional athlete, because there are so many things you have to take into consideration," Jackson said.
"And if I had have had kids at an early age, I may have regretted it because I wouldn't have been able to do what I have done.
"It's hard, and there's definitely peaks and troughs ... Some days, I feel like, I feel like I just want to go home and have a family and just be with my family, and you know it's hard. It's hard being away ... Things change, people change."
It seems like an eternity ago since the lanky teenager from Albury made her Olympic debut in Sydney.
She has been the focal point of a team that has been beaten in the gold-medal game against the almighty US in her home Olympics, Athens and Beijing.
Yet she admits it has come at a great personal cost.
"You know, in relationships, love ... it's so difficult," Jackson said.
"I've definitely loved. I've loved. I've been so fortunate. But it's impossible to maintain anything, being a professional athlete, and being a woman, because you can't settle down and have a family unless you're willing to give up your career.
"And I just can't see myself giving up basketball until my body says, 'All right, you've had enough'. But I try, I'm trying, I'm trying. That's all I can say trying to maintain relationships is very difficult, but I'm trying."
Over the last 12 years, Jackson has become one of the all-time greats of the WNBA for Seattle in the US, and in the European leagues.
She is renowned as one of the toughest on-court competitors in the world.
"When I'm competing, I am a bitch, you know?" she said. "And people know that about me. They know that I will compete and Ill throw elbows. I'll do anything that I can to get a basket or get a rebound."
Will it be enough to overcome the US, spearheaded by WNBA rookie of the Maya Moore?
"They could put three national teams together and probably win gold, silver and bronze, on a good day, any day," Jackson said.
"They're amazing. I mean, they've got athletes coming out that are just - like Maya - that can do things that you sit in awe and watch.
"It's sort of fun to watch. But being the opponent, it's not easy. The rivalry is definitely there. I'm friends with a lot of those guys, and it's hard playing against friends. It really is for me. But I don't really care. All I can see is gold right now."