Lauren Jackson honoured in Canberra

Lauren Jackson honoured in Canberra

Yep, four wins on the trot and a solid shot at a championship. But what of Lauren Jackson's impact off the court?

A four-time WNBL MVP, Jackson has long been a terrific ambassador for the league, never more so than in this season and has conducted herself with grace and poise as the nation watches on.

With the stadiums packed to the rafters at each of the four games she has played, Jackson has sacrificed her own recovery after the games to spend up to an hour signing autographs for the crowds; taking time for the fans and patiently answering the media’s questions.

Jackson is enjoying being back in Australia and playing in the domestic league for the first time since 2006.

“At the end of the day being able to come back here and play has just been, well, for me, it’s a bit of an honour,” she said on 1116AM SEN’s In the Paint.

“I’m just glad to be back, spend time with my family and friends, and also get to play.”

WHERE'S LAUREN in the picture (right)?

Fans will get their next opportunity to see Lauren Jackson play on Saturday night in Canberra when her Canberra Capitals host her Olympic teammate Suzy Batkovic-Brown and the Sydney Uni Flames.

One of the world's leading women's basketballers, and Canberra Capitals' lynchpin, Jackson was today named Canberra's Australia Day Ambassador in 2010 by the Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.

"This year the honour has been accepted by Ms Lauren Jackson for her outstanding contribution to the Canberra community as a world class athlete and key player for the Canberra Capitals.

"Coinciding with the local festivities, Ms Jackson will be playing for the Capitals against Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday 23 January, one of the many great events listed in this year's program," Mr Stanhope said.

The Australia Day Ambassador Program, presented by Woolworths, is an initiative that sees high achieving and proud Australians attend local Australia Day celebrations in towns and cities across the nation.

“Enjoy the spirit of it, celebrate how lucky we are and how free we are in Australia. We live in the most beautiful country in world love it, enjoy family, enjoy friends and soak up the atmosphere of Australia Day,” Jackson told The Canberra Times.

Australia Day Ambassadors volunteer their time and energy to inspire pride and celebration in hundreds of local communities in cities, regional areas and in the country.

Lauren Jackson recently returned to Canberra after playing with the Seattle Storm in the US, and has been welcomed back by the community, and the Capitals.

"This is not the first time that Ms Jackson has been named an ambassador," Mr Stanhope said.

"She became an ambassador for Australian women's basketball as a result of her performance during Australia's 2000 silver medal-winning Olympic basketball team.

"She has also made more than 60 international appearances with Australia's national team, the Opals, during her successful career."

Mr Stanhope said that, as the Australia Day Ambassador, she will make appearances at events around Canberra on 26 January and will be awarded with a special Ambassador pin by a local Woolworths store manager.

He said the 2010 an exciting program of Australia Day events has been developed in close association with the National Australia Day Council and local community groups providing the community with a range of events to choose from leading up to and on Australia Day.

"Australia Day is a time for all Australians to celebrate what it means to live in this great country.

"Here in Canberra, Australia Day provides the opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together as a community to enjoy what is unique and special about our nation and our city," Mr Stanhope said.

The celebrations commence on Friday 22 January with the Athletics ACT Summer series at the AIS.

The Australia Day Eve celebrations will take place on the lawns of Parliament House to welcome in Australia Day with another huge line-up of home grown Aussie talent.

"There's also the Great Aussie Day Breakfast in Commonwealth Park presented by ActewAGL, and the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets (with all proceeds being donated to Camp Quality), the Australia Day Bush Picnic at the new venue of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Australia Day in the Park with the return of the Children's Festival and Australia Day Jam," Mr Stanhope said.

To view the full program of events visit www.australiaday.org.au/act.

By Kimberley Lewis for WNBL Media and the ACT Government

Main photo courtesy of Eric Li for www.canberrapictorial.com.au
Inset photo courtesy of Ian Knight Photography