Harrower signs off with bronze medal and flood of tears

Bendigo basketballer Kristi Harrower was chaired from the court by team-mates amid a flood of tears after stamping her stellar international career with an Olympic bronze medal in London this morning.

The 37-year-old was hoisted on her team-mates' shoulders after playing a starring role in the 83-74  win over Russia in the play-off for bronze at North Greenwich Arena.

Harrower scored 21 points and was supported by captain Lauren Jackson and Suzy Batkovic.

The trio of veterans scored 63 of Australia's 83 points.

But now the Opals enter an uncertain period with Harrower, Jackson, Batkovic and Jenni Screen uncertain whether they will play on to Rio in 2016.

"It was really special, it was emotional knowing it was probably my last game for the Australian team and it's extra special we can actually celebrate as a team," Harrower said.

"I don't want to announce anything now, I'm going away on a holiday with my husband and I'll think about my basketball future then.

"I don't want to take away from our bronze medal ... To get any medal is special and me and Lauren are lucky enough that we've got four so we're very happy right now."

Harrower had hoped her final game for the Opals would be in the London Olympics gold medal game but a 86-73 semi-final loss to arch-rival the United States ended that golden dream.

Harrower was emotional after the loss to the US.

“For me it’s one more game and then it’s the end of my Opals career,” the point guard said. 

“It’s been 20 years, but you know what? I’ve had no regrets.

“We’ve been such a successful team for such a long time and I’m just glad I’ve been a part of it.

“It’s been fun and it’s been an amazing journey for me.”

Harrower could be joined in international retirement by fellow three-time Olympic silver medalist Lauren Jackson.

Jackson will be 35 in 2016 and she realises it may well be time to pass the baton.

“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” she said.

“I’m getting old and I don’t know what I’ll be doing in four years time so we’ll see. Who knows.”

Harrower did her best to get the Opals into the gold medal game. 

She scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds as the brave Opals gave the United States a mighty scare.

Ahead 47-43 at half-time, Australia’s campaign unravelled in the second half as the Americans showed their class and the Opals failed to recover from the significant loss of defensive specialist Jenny Screen.

Screen played no part after half-time as she was unable to see out of her right eye which was severely swollen from an accidental second-quarter collision.

The 30-year-old was sent for precautionary X-rays after the match and may have played her last Olympic match.

Australia lost the previous three Olympic finals to the USA and were the pre-Games tip to make another decider, but in the end it was their surprise first-up pool loss to France which set up the showdown one match early.

“I don’t think anybody has played better against us for a long time than Australia did in that first half – that was an impressive display of basketball and we didn’t have any answers to that,” Auriemma said.

“It was incredible what they did to us, and I have a lot of admiration for them.”

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