The Tokyo Olympics will have a new sport: Men’s and Women’s 3x3 basketball.
It’s played on half of a regular five-a-side basketball court, with each team shooting into a single basket and no coaches allowed on the sideline.
Allisha Gray, guard for the Dallas Wings, could make history as one of the U.S. Olympians on that team, once the team is announced Wednesday.
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“I’m very excited. The Olympics for most people is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Gray said.
She made the cut after months of practices, domestic and international tournaments.
“As a young girl growing up, you see the Olympics on TV and you see the gold medals and then you say to yourself, ‘yeah man, one day I want to be able to compete,'” Gray said. “I’m really from a small town. Sandersville, Georgia, is where I’m from. [Making the team] shows that even from a small town you can still get out if you remain focused on your goals and don’t let any distractions stop you from achieving that goal.”
The 26-year-old would love her family and friends to be able to see her in action in her first Olympics, but pandemic restrictions in Japan mean that no foreign spectators will be allowed. Gray said that’s something she has already had practice with.
“Last year we were in the bubble in Florida [because of COVID-19], so we didn’t have fans there. We were able to adapt so I think I will be able to get over that easy like I did last year in the bubble,” Gray said.
Gray and the other women who hope to participate in this new Olympic event have been through strict COVID protocols, including testing with the WNBA and USA Basketball. The journey to Tokyo has been filled with a lot of isolation and very careful travel, both things Gray said have prepared them all to contend for Olympic gold.
“My main mentality is to stay focused and just be a good mentor and role model for all the little boys and girls from my hometown of Sandersville, Georgia,” Gray said.