Australian women’s basketball head coach, Jan Stirling, has given Beijing the thumbs up after experiencing the Olympic city first hand during a test event.
The ‘Australian Defence Force’ Opals are currently in China contesting the ‘Good Luck Beijing’ tournament against teams from the Unites States, Cuba, Korea, New Zealand and the host nation.
Australia faces Korea this evening and will be keen to avenge losses to China and Cuba after victory over the United States last Saturday.
Stirling said she was more than impressed by the Wukesong Culture and Sports Centre which acts as the Beijing Olympic Basketball Stadium.
“It’s sensational,” she said.
“Certainly from a staffing point of view I think China has all bases covered and all athletes are going to enjoy being involved in the Olympic Games at any of the venues from what we’ve seen.
“It’s going to be an exciting time for these world class athletes.
“They [China] have left no stone unturned, as you would expect.”
Images sent home for use on the Basketball Australia website even show blue skies and roads with no traffic.
After three games in consecutive days, the ADF Opals spent a rest day yesterday acting as ambassadors for Australia.
For any normal basketball clinic you will typically get one or two athletes to attend. The students of Western Academy in Beijing got a little extra when the entire ADF Opals team came through the doors.
And what an impact they had, judging by a letter sent to ADF Opals team manager Marian Stewart by the PE teacher of the Academy:
Dear Marian and Opals-
My name is Haje Halabi- I have sent you a few emails- I am the PE teacher with whom you ran the clinic.
Please wholeheartedly thank the coach, assistant coach, support staff and all the women, what fine examples of wonderful sports they are! We know your schedule was busy but we really appreciate you coming to WAB today.
Our kids were so thrilled with the way they interacted with us and got them involved, there was non-stop action out there, lots of fun and smiling faces, lots of great humour.
I have seen many sportspeople come to schools over the years, both internationally and in Australia, these women were wonderful in what they did and how they did it.
The activities were fun and challenging and you got all the students moving and enjoying. This was truly a special day for these fortunate students, I asked many how they think it all went-here are some words they used to describe it all-"super", "cool", "amazing" are only some.
The women presented as real ambassadors and role models, something for all of our kids to look up to.
On behalf of the WAB community, thank you so much for what you all have done. The energy that left the room will fill the students for many a day!
You are all true Opals, shining bright!
Good luck with the Olympics!
HOD MS and HS
Health and Physical Education.
Western Academy of Beijing,
10 Lai Guang Ying Dong Lu,
Chao Yang District,
BEIJING 100103 PRC. CHINA
Stirling and the ADF Opals also benefitted from the experience in a secondary way. They got to see where they would do their recovery sessions in August.
“As Opals we were keen to do the clinic,” head coach Jan Stirling said.“It was really to share ideas and allow the kids a chance to meet some international athletes.“But the Academy is also the recovery centre that is going to be used for the Beijing Olympics so we’re getting a bit of a heads up on what is going to be available.“The recovery centre in an Olympic campaign is really important to our group.”Tip off for Australia’s game against Korea is at 6:45pm (EDT).