Shooting star Samuelson shrugs off injury to shine in Nanjing
Despite turning an ankle earlier in the week, basketball player Katie Lou Samuelson (USA), was still able to show off her shooting prowess in the first ever Olympic skills contest on 21 August.
She found her rhythm on the last round of the competition and took the bronze medal. “It was really nerve-racking but it was amazing,” Samuelson said. “It is awesome to win a medal.”
Samuelson is also one of the main reasons that the USA is considered a top contender for a medal in the women’s 3x3 tournament.
In fact, she arrived in Nanjing as one of the most highly-rated teenage basketball players on the planet.
Katie Samuelson has been tipped for a huge future in women's basketball
Her decision to go to the University of Connecticut this academic year made national headlines in the USA, and many observers are hyping her as the top first-year player in the highly competitive US collegiate league.
Samuelson is certainly not used to being a spectator, and she is itching to get into action at the Games. “It is really hard to sit out there and watch, but my teammates have been amazing,” she said.
“It has been a while since I have sat out. I’ve not had many injuries that have stopped me from playing. It’s hard not playing.”
It is no surprise that Samuelson's sport of choice was basketball. Her father Jon played professionally in Europe while her two sisters, Karlie and Bonnie, are top players at the USA’s Stanford University.
Katie courted by more than a dozen US universities, but the University of Connecticut Huskies offer one of the most successful programmes in the country and the school has produced several Olympians and players for the WNBA, the women’s North American professional league.
“This past year has been pretty stressful before I committed, but now that I’ve committed it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Samuelson said.
Two of her team-mates on the USA team at the Nanjing 2014 Games – Dejanae Boykin and Napheesa Collier – will also be attending the University of Connecticut. “It’s awesome we are going to play together before college,” said Samuelson.
The teenager has been part of the USA national team programme for a couple of years and made a name for herself in 2013 when she put on an amazing display of shooting to help the US under-16s win the FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico.
Like most players in Nanjing, Samuelson plays traditional 5-on-5 basketball, but she has enjoyed the transition to 3x3.
“There’s more freedom and I like the fast pace. You only have 12 seconds to score and it’s a quick game,” she reflected. “This has been an amazing experience.”