Ariel Atkins, guard for the Washington Mystics, is making her Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.
“It’s insane,” Atkins said to NBC 5’s Laura Harris after the team advanced to the quarterfinals. “It’s just so exciting to walk into the gym every chance we get and be able to play. I know there are no fans in here, so it makes it a little awkward. But to be able to put on this jersey and represent everything that it means, that means a lot.”
Born and raised in Duncanville, Atkins was part of the legendary Duncanville High School women’s basketball team run from 2011-2014. They won 105 straight games and two state titles.
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The NBA all-star is no stranger to the challenge of being on a big stage, but she said the Olympics is on another level.
“It’s crazy because it’s something I have always wanted to do, but you know you write down a lot. My mom says dream big and I this is the highest of the high and you actually make it and it is pretty amazing,” Atkins said.
As far as not having family and friends in the stands for her Olympic debut, Atkins said she is just trying to look at it as a positive.
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“I tried not to put any expectation on it because I didn’t know. I just had no idea what this would be like. This is a first experience with no fans, so I think it’s unique and more intimate. We get to dive into what it means to be an Olympian at its core, because there are no fans here. Being able to represent your hometown in all that you can, while they're not being able to be here is pretty amazing.
The USA women’s basketball team will be in action against Australia Wednesday, Aug. 4 at 1:40 p.m.