Basketballer Liz Cambage Cut from National Team After Attending Festival Instead of Training
Go to a festival for a chance to catch Blur, Tame Impala and Royal Blood? Or attend a compulsory national basketball training camp? That’s the conundrum that faced giant Australian basketballer Liz Cambage. She selected the first option. And it’s cost her dearly.
Cambage, who is on the comeback trail after rupturing her Achilles tendon nearly a year ago, went AWOL on Sunday when she was expected to participate in a training session to test her injured leg and gauge her fitness.
She didn’t check into the Melbourne b’ball camp because she was checking out the action at the annual Splendour In the Grass festival, a three-day camping event in the east coast beach town Byron Bay.
Basketball Australia (BA) had allowed Cambage to attend Saturday’s show, but after her no-show on Sunday they’ve given her more time off. A lot more. She’s been axed from the squad for friendlies with Japan this week and next month's 2016 Rio Olympic qualifiers against New Zealand.
"I'm baffled," Opals teammate and WNBA star Lauren Jackson told reporters. "I've played on that team for 20 years and nobody has ever done that.”
Cambage is something of a headline-machine. And at 6’8” (203 cm) she’s hard to miss. She made history at the 2012 Olympic Games when she performed the first slam dunk in the women’ competition. After the Games, she failed to return to her professional team, the WNBA's Tulsa Shock, which had drafted her at No. 2 overall. She recently signed a seven-figure deal to play basketball for five months for Shanghai Dahua in China.
Since debuting in 2001, Splendour has grown into one of the most celebrated destinations in Australia’s logjammed festivals space. There’s a handful of reasons behind its hot-ticket status -- it’s a rare mid-winter camping event, held in one of the country’s most sought-after holiday spots, and the international performers are typically “in-cycle.” It’s not uncommon for the big names to test new tunes on the Splendour crowds.
In an interview with News Corp Australia, Cambage said she attended Splendour as a paid “host” for an artist and only went because of uncertain timing over the camp and Japan games. She’s yet to share her thoughts on the bands that performed on the third and final day of Splendour, which included the original line-up of Blur performing its first set Down Under in 18 years.