Nigeria born Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike may be missing the Tokyo Olympics Basketball event.
USA Basketball announced a loaded women’s roster for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics on Monday with Ogwumike missing raising some heat.
The six-time WNBA All-Star and 2016 league MVP has been a regular for Team USA, playing in 59 international games including gold medal runs in the 2014 and 2018 FIBA World Cups.
But she’s never played in the Olympics. She didn’t make the 2016 Team USA roster in the same year she was named WNBA MVP. And she won’t play in Tokyo next month despite her regular presence with Team USA since 2017.
Team USA head coach Dawn Staley addressed Ogwumike’s omission when the teams were announced, citing her health as a concern. Ogwumike suffered a knee sprain on June 1 and was given a 4-to-6-week timeline for a return to play. She remains sidelined three weeks into that timeline.
“Breaks my heart that Nneka isn’t on this team,” Staley said, per the San Jose Mercury News. “Having to make a decision today, if we had to make a decision a month from now, I’m sure she’d be healthy. This was one of the things she wanted to do.”
Team USA is scheduled to play its first game in Tokyo on July 27. Ogwumike’s timeline would have her ready to play by then.
Elena Delle Donne, the 2019 WNBA MVP, is another high-profile omission dealing with injury. But her return to basketball after back surgery remains unclear with a timeline expected to extend into August at the earliest.
Another player dealing with injury who did make the cut is Diana Taurasi, an Olympics mainstay. The Phoenix Mercury announced on May 25 that Taurasi suffered a fractured sternum and was expected to miss four weeks.
The four-time Olympic gold medalist has yet to return to play, but it appears that Team USA is satisfied that her injury status will allow her to compete. She told reporters on a video call Monday that she’s “feeling much better.”