Web Editorial Associate
The five Minnesota Lynx Olympians arrived home on Monday night and were greeted by hundreds of screaming fans at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Head coach Cheryl Reeve, guards Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus, along with forwards Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles were all smiles after going undefeated and winning a Gold Medal at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“We’re happy to be back and we’re very proud,” Whalen said. “It was obviously very exciting, we put a lot of work into it, the whole month that we’re together and everyone throughout their whole lives actually, so it was exciting to win it again.”
The four Lynx players and the Women’s National Team as a whole played very well together throughout the tournament and dominated every one of their opponents.
“It was refreshing to be able to see 12 players, eight other players that weren’t Lynx players, to kind of share those values (playing selfless basketball) and you could see it works,” coach Reeve said. “You can see that not caring who gets the credit goes a long way. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re competing against these players, night in and night out, and then you have to be on the same side. So initially that was a transition for me, but when we got to Rio, everybody was all in about what we were trying to accomplish and I’m really, really feeling proud of not only the Lynx, but the entire USA National Team.”
Each of the four defending WNBA Champions turned in great performances as well during the Olympic Games and boy oh boy was it a thing of beauty to watch when they were all on the court together.
“I thought we all had a really great impact on the team and obviously coach as well, I thought we represented Minnesota and the Lynx really well,” Whalen said.
Although it was either their second or third trip to the Olympics, competing against the best competition in the World, the players didn’t forget to live in the moment and enjoy the adventure.
“It’s the people really that I remember the most, the journey, as we go through our own unique experience as the team that we are,” Moore said. “We’re never going to have the 2016 team experience again because that team was that team. As the time was winding down in the game I was kind of getting a little emotional thinking, ‘wow, this is it,’ for this group. There’s a future for some and there’s retirement for some. It’s just one of those things that you kind of have to pause and reflect on and enjoy, and not try to move to fast and move ahead, so we’re going to eat this up and continue to enjoy it for a long time.”
On top of living on a cruise ship, seeing the unbelievable sites that Brazil has to offer, and going to other Olympic events, the Women’s National Team also managed to have a little fun on the basketball court.
“It’s really kind of mind-blowing to think about the legacy that we are fortunate enough to be a part of,” Moore said. “We grew up looking up to a lot of the women who shoulders we stand on and now, we can be those women who people look up to and it’s a great honor but it’s also so fun. We know we’re surrounded by the best and that’s the best part of the journey, we get to do it with each other and it’s really fun and when you see us out there and you think we’re a lot of having fun it’s because we are. It is as fun as it looked.”
At the end of the long and strenuous journey to capture a Gold Medal, it was the dedicated Minnesota Lynx fans that provided the players and coach with a spectacular welcome home celebration.
“It just always for me seeing the players getting the respect that they deserve and our fans being so amazing and so connected with our players, so it was really fun to see,” coach Reeve said. “I’ve been doing that (watching her players enjoy the moment) since the World Championships. I’m somebody that I’m kind of old enough to understand to live in the moment and have a great deal of appreciation for what this group has done. To have four Lynx players who are Olympians, that’s something that I know that there wasn’t a day that we were together that I didn’t have fun and just to kind of be with them in a different way and just to share it with them. It was really special to be there with them during this time of their lives.”