Lauren Jackson, widely considered to be Australia's greatest female basketball player of all time, has led the Australian women to the Olympic podium four times from four Olympic Games. Having won silver medals in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008), Jackson carried the Australian flag into the London Opening Ceremony before going on to claim bronze in 2012. On each occasion, the gold-medal team has been the United States.
Both her parents, Gary and Maree, represented Australia in basketball, and Lauren took to the game at the age of four. A teenage prodigy at Murray High School, Albury, she moved to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra as a teenager. She first played for the Opals in 1997 at the age of 16, and led the AIS team - composed of the country's best 16-to-18-year-old players - to a premiership in the WNBL national professional league. She later joined Canberra's other team, the Capitals, and led them to four titles.
When Jackson went into America's WNBA draft in 2001, she was an automatic first choice for Seattle Storm. At 196cm, Jackson is very effective in defence, combining her height with a good shooting percentage. Still committed to the national team, in 2006 Jackson led the Opals to victory over Russia for the 2006 World Championship crown. In 2007 Jackson received the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award, and she has been named as winner of the WNBA's Most Valuable Player award three times (2003, 2007 and 2010). In 2004 and 2010 her Seattle Storm team won the WNBA championship.
While juggling her time between playing the WNBA and WNBL, Jackson has also had success playing in Europe and Asia. After an initial stint in Russia, Jackson played in Korea for three years where she won the MVP for the league in 2007. She played with Spartak Moscow in Russia between 2007-2009 and won the championship in both 2007 and 2008. In 2011 Jackson started playing with Ros Casares in Valencia, Spain. The team won the EuroLeague Championship in the 2011-12 season.
Harry Gordon, AOC Historian