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Opals legend Penny Taylor announces retirement
Australian Opals legend Penny Taylor has announced she will retire from professional basketball at the end of the WNBA season.
Taylor remains determined and focused to add the one missing piece to her outstanding basketball resume - an Olympic gold medal.
"My focus is on the Olympics, but definitely it's my last year," Taylor told The Associated Press.
"[I] Worked really hard to get back and still be good. I want to go out on a good note. My health is something I really had to work had at, and to be fit and stay out on the floor, I've done that really well. For me, it's the right time."
Taylor's impressive career began as part of the famous AIS WNBL championship-winning team of 1999 alongside fellow great Lauren Jackson, who also announced her retirement from the game earlier in 2016.
Taylor was then recruited to the Dandenong Rangers, earning consecutive MVP awards in 2001 and 2002, paving the way for a career in the WNBA and Europe.
Selected at pick 11 in the 2001 WNBA Draft, Taylor headed to the Cleveland Rockers and enjoyed a strong breakout season. This was soon followed by outstanding performances in international competition with the Opals, which eventually led to her trade to her current home, the Phoenix Mercury.
Famously, Taylor was crowned World Championship MVP as the Opals claimed the gold medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Brazil. Her incredible tournament saw her average 18 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Taylor was instrumental in that gold medal winning performance that was Australia's first ever gold medal in a major competition at senior level.
Her list of achievements are endless. Add two silver Olympic medals, 2 bronze World Championship medals, WNBL Championship, WNBL two-time MVP, WNBA two-time champion, three-time WNBA All-Star, three-time Euroleague World All-Star team, Italian A1 Champion, Russian Superleague champion, and two-time Turkish league champion. There is no doubting the status of Taylor as one of the best players of her era.
It has certainly not been an easy ride for Taylor. She was tragically ruled out of the 2012 London Olympics after sustaining an ACL injury, a set-back that sidelined her for 15 months. She has been dealing with hip issues lately which forced her to miss the last three weeks of the WNBA season before the Olympic break.
As the heart and soul of the current Opals, Taylor will lead her country for one final campaign to hopefully achieve the illustrious gold medal she is so deserving of. It would be a fitting end to one of Australia's greatest ever basketballers. However her legacy that will remain goes far beyond the achievements she has penciled against her name.
You can watch Penny Taylor and the Opals take on Team USA in their final exhibition game ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games from 6:00am AEST on Monday, 1 August on NBA TV or ESPN in Australia.