August 11, 2012 in Sports

Bird had her eyes on France all along

K.C. Johnson Chicago Tribune
 
Associated Press photo

USA’s Sue Bird (6) and Asjha Jones face France.
(Full-size photo)

LONDON – Obviously, Sue Bird can’t join the British populace who are allowed to wager on these Olympic Games.

But if the three-time Olympian were so inclined her women’s tournament bracket would be spotless.

“France was my sleeper team,” Bird said. “I could’ve won a pool.”

Even early in this tournament, Bird, of the Seattle Storm, was one of the few to be praising France, a surprise opponent opposite the U.S. in today’s women’s basketball gold-medal game.

Making just its second Olympic basketball appearance, France is guaranteed its first medal.

But it’s a safe bet that had Bird made her picks, she’d have the U.S. celebrating a 41st straight Olympic victory and an unprecedented fifth straight gold medal when the matchup is complete.

The streak “is not something we think about daily or at all,” Bird said. “The one thing I can say is in Brazil in 2006, I was on that team that lost (to Russia in the world championships) for the first time in a long time. We got a bronze medal. And it was a terrible feeling.”

Team USA’s 13-point semifinal victory over Australia, in which it trailed at halftime in the Olympics for the first time since the third game at the 2000 Sydney Games, dropped its average margin of victory here to 34.1 points. That’s dominance.

But coach Geno Auriemma need only point to France’s record – 7-0, just like Team USA’s – to remind all that work remains.

Also today

Track and field: Gold-medal finals in men’s 4x100 relay, men’s 5,000, men’s javelin, women’s 4x400 relay, women’s 800, women’s high jump.

Men’s diving: Platform gold-medal final.

Women’s volleyball: Gold-medal final – U.S vs. Brazil.

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