Natalie Stafford has been named as British Basketball’s Olympic Athlete of the Year for 2012 after her performances in London and elsewhere last summer.
The Australian-born guard is a surprise recipient of the honour, beating out team-mate Jo Leedham along with the senior GB squad. However she averaged 15.6 points at London 2012 and was a resolute presence all summer, despite an eventual run that saw the side fail to record a win at the Games.
Stafford is no longer playing in the Australian League this season and it remains unclear whether she will return for this summer’s EuroBasket. However she paid tribute to her team behind the team.
“Personally I was the fittest I have ever been in my life and I most certainly played the best basketball of my life, at 35 years old that makes it even more special,” she said. “But, I couldn’t have done it without the coaching and support staff or my wonderful teammates. We all pushed each other to be the best we could be. My husband and family also suffered endless Olympic diets, fitness and talk so a big thank you for their support too.”
Stafford succeeds Julie Page (2011), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (2010) and Luol Deng (2007 and 2008) with the prize.
Scottish forward Ali Fraser was given the Emerging Player award after some great performances for the GB under-20 team last year, including being top scorer for GB at the European Championships with a 19.7 point per game average ranking him the tournament’s third highest scorer.
The Maine University sophomore was also the tournament’s top ranking player in field goals made and two-point field goals attempted and made. His dominance of the key meant GB were able to have a huge inside threat that the opponents found difficult to handle.
“I am very honoured to be able to play for Great Britain, simply being able to represent my country is amazing and this award is really an added bonus,” he said.
“I am happy that I have been able to contribute to the GB national team and hope to be able to continue to contribute in the future.”
Comments are closed on this post.