The link between three of Australian basketball’s greatest moments internationally, Jenny Whittle enshrined herself in the legacy of the Opals over a period of 13 years while also starring in the WNBL for two decades.

Her first international accolade came in 1993 when Australia advanced unbeaten through the FIBA World Championship for Junior Women to win their first gold medal at the tournament.

Averaging 10.1 points per contest, the centre added six points and provided a dominant defensive presence under the rim in the gold medal game as Australia defeated Russia 72-54.

She was immediately placed on the Opals radar and represented the national side just a year later at the 1994 World Championships where Australia equalled their best ever result with a fourth placed finish.

It was the beginning of a 262-game career for the Opals as Whittle provided the height that had been lacking from Australia’s line-ups in years past and her rebounding and rim protection proved critical to Australia’s chances, becoming the mountain in the middle of the Australian defence.

Just five years after her gold medal victory as a junior, Whittle became a member of Australia’s first Olympic medal winning team (for women or men) when they secured bronze in 1996 by beating Ukraine.

She played in all eight games for the tournament, averaging five points and 3.2 rebounds per match before scoring seven points in the bronze medal game.

That victory sparked an era of medals for the Opals as they followed up the performance with another bronze at the 1998 World Championships before returning home to participate in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

With the nation behind them, Australia competed in their first ever Olympic gold medal game and while they fell to the USA, it remains arguably their best ever performance at an Olympics as they won the silver medal.

Whittle was the team’s second leading rebounder behind Lauren Jackson and that dominant front court helped Australia earn a fourth consecutive medal when they won bronze at the 2002 World Championships.

The centre then announced her retirement and missed the 2004 Olympics but upon a request from Tom Maher, she returned to the Opals for the 2006 World Championships and was subsequently named co-captain.

The return led to her greatest achievement on the international scene as Australia won the gold medal following nine consecutive victories which culminated with a 91-74 defeat of Russia in the final.

The respect in which Whittle was held by her peers produced one of the great moments of Australian basketball history when Jackson grabbed the trophy and presented it to her co-captain, signifying Whittle’s great contribution to the Opals.

That medal came mere months after Australia dominated at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, winning five games by an average of 65 points including a victory over New Zealand in the gold medal match.

Domestically, Whittle played 295 games in the WNBL after debuting for the AIS (1989-91) and representing the Brisbane Blazers (1992-97), Perth Breakers (1998-99) and Bulleen Boomers (2000).

In 2005, she joined the Canberra Capitals and the following year she was the club MVP as the Caps won the Championship, finishing as the league’s third leading scorer with 17 points per game, second for rebounds (9.0) and fourth for blocks (1.9).

Whittle and Sharp celebrate

In her final WNBL season, Whittle moved to the Adelaide Lightning and won her second title after a dominant 21-3 regular season, capping off a career that also included four All-Star Teams (1996, 1997, 2005 and 2006.)

Also enjoying successful stints with teams in France, Germany, Hungary and Spain as well as in the WNBA with the Washington Mystics, Whittle was a mighty warrior and a cornerstone of the golden age for the Opals.

Purchase your tickets for one of Australian basketball's most prestigious nights as Jenny Whittle is inducted alongside six other athletes, coaches and contributors here.

The 2016 Australian Basketball Hall of Fame Class:

Perry Crosswhite AM
Jeanie Kupsch
Liesl Tesch AM
Jenny Whittle

Patrick Hunt AM

Ron Harvey CVO AM
Ken Watson BEM

Michele Timms