Jones, Charles return to Sun after winning Olympic gold

Connecticut Sun player Asjha Jones, left, shows off her gold medal with teammate and fellow gold medal winner Tina Charles Tuesday at a press conference at Mohegan Sun.
Connecticut Sun player Asjha Jones, left, shows off her gold medal with teammate and fellow gold medal winner Tina Charles Tuesday at a press conference at Mohegan Sun. Jen Hildebrand/connecticut suN

Mohegan - Tina Charles has a new 'BFF.'

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

"Me and Usain Bolt are like this," Charles deadpanned during a press conference Tuesday at Mohegan Sun Arena.

"Oh, God, here she goes," Sun and Olympic teammate Asjha Jones said.

"Me and Usain Bolt are like best friends," Charles continued.

"Yeah, right. If you hadn't froze up and actually spoke to him."

Charles and Jones spoke to the media about their Olympic experiences with the U.S. women's basketball team. And, yes, Charles met Bolt. She even got a photo with him, too.

"I'm a fan of his," Charles said. "He's a great athlete. What he's able to do for the country of Jamaica, the joy that one person is able to bring to a whole country, is really great."

It was the first Olympics for both players. It was everything they hoped it would be and more.

"It was awesome," Charles said. "My favorite memory was the Opening Ceremony. That's when it hit me that we're here (in London), that I was here. Just being among the other athletes, just to be walking along Sue (Bird), Swin (Cash) and Dee (Diana Taurasi), it's unreal. ... Make sure we walked by Kobe (Bryant) so we could be on TV"

"We had interesting outfits on," Jones said, referring to the sport jackets, long skirts and berets that Ralph Lauren designed for the United States' female Olympians.

"We kind of just took it in and had fun with that. Some people liked them, some didn't. I think everybody looked pretty good. We would never wear an outfit like that any other time, so we just had a good time. Tina liked the shoes."

"I loved the shoes," Charles interjected.

"That's kind of her style," Jones said.

It was a bit of a school reunion for Charles and Jones as they were two of six UConn players on Team USA. Maya Moore, Bird, Cash and Taurasi rounded out the Husky contingent with coach Geno Auriemma.

"We all want to play at the highest level, and (Auriemma) wants to coach at the highest level," Jones said. "And there's nothing higher than coaching for the Olympic team. So I think he was proud of that and he took it to heart.

"He challenged all of us. He wasn't afraid to say what was on his mind, like he always does."

Much was made about the pressure on the United States to win a fifth-straight gold medal. It didn't have much time to train together due to their WNBA commitments during the summer, and playing overseas in the fall, winter and spring.

"We didn't really talk about that (the pressure)," Jones said. "When you're playing on a team with 12 amazing players, you don't have to do that much. You just have to do your part.

"You know the pressure is there. Everyone knows what's at stake, but you don't have to talk about it. You just go out and perform."

Charles said, "We're all mature pros. It wasn't like I never played with Seimone (Augustus); that I don't know where she wants the ball or whatever. She's a great scorer, so you just give her the ball and she'll get it done. I know I didn't have to go out there and get 20 and 10 (points and rebounds). All I had to do was defend my butt off. That was my job."

The Americans may not have been fazed, but winning gold and standing on the platform during the medal ceremonies was a big deal to both.

"I got kind of emotional," Charles said. "The main picture that you see the athletes in the Olympics, their hands over their hearts, the National Anthem, all that. So when they're playing the Anthem, it was great."

Jones said: "I was just proud to be there. ... It just kind of really sunk in; that it's a dream for most people, most athletes, in the world."

n.griffen@theday.com

Hide Comments

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments