Plum good: Team USA 3-on-3 star with SWFL ties gets her Olympic gold

Three-on-three basketball was featured in the Olympic Games for the first time this year, and Team USA’s women’s team had no problem showing them how it’s done.

It’s a fast, rough, and exciting sport where both teams go for the same basket on a small court. There are three players on the court for each team, and our women’s team is bringing home the gold.

WINK News Reporter Sydney Persing spoke “one on one” early Thursday with Team USA’s Kelsey Plum, who has a shiny gold medal to her name and a special place for Southwest Florida in her heart.

If you’ve ever wondered how gold tastes, just ask an Olympic champion like Plum. She knows now that gold tastes good.

“Listen, if you lose, don’t even go back to the hotel, don’t even find your flight home, that’s what all of us were talking about, we will not be the ones to do this, to mess this up.”

Plum and her teammates certainly didn’t mess anything up. They choked down the pressure to beat the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) on Wednesday in dramatic fashion, 18-15, to win the first-ever Olympic gold in Women’s 3-on-3 Basketball.

“I think like every interaction, it’s starting to become apparent. Like, wait a second, this is really happening. It did happen,” she said.

United States’ Kelsey Plum, left, Stefanie Dolson (13), Jacquelyn Young (8) and Allisha Gray celebrate after defeating Russian Olympic Committee in a women’s 3-on-3 gold medal basketball game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

In large part, it happened because of Plum. She led all scorers in the tournament with 55 overall points. A year ago, the Olympics weren’t even a dream after she tore her Achilles tendon.

With a comeback story like that, the American standout’s been on TV quite a bit, and on her gold medal high, our interview was especially special.

“Yeah, so my family is a part of WINK News.”

Plum and her family own Fort Myers Broadcasting Company, WINK News’ parent company.

“You know, it’s just cool to be able to represent. Obviously, I represent the United States, but I represent my family as well. So, you know, just trying to make them proud. I just tried to make them proud. It’s cool to be on here with you.”

What has she learned throughout the process as an athlete and as a person?

“I learned I’m tough as nails,” she said. “In life, we go after things, and it’s pretty cool. Like when I was 10, I told myself I want a gold medal. So to be here and do it, it just feels like a dream come true.”

United States’ Kelsey Plum (5) heads to the basket past France’s Mamignan Toure during a women’s 3-on-3 semifinal basketball game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

What is her message to young female athletes?

“Go big, go big. And don’t let anyone tell you it’s too big. Just when you think it’s not big enough, go bigger,” she advised. “I remember telling people I was going to do this. And I remember some of their faces, like, are you sure? Do you know how hard that is? Yeah. And at the time, no idea, right? Just kind of…that’s what I wanted to do.”

And she did. So, parents, tell your little girls the story of Kelsey Plum. Let them get a good look at the photos and turn up the volume on the below video. Let them listen closely.

“I just think that’s important. It’s important to see representation of women telling you that you can do it. So I’ll look ’em right now in the face and tell ’em it’s worth it. Go after it.”

And just maybe, your little girl will one day know how gold tastes.

Below is Sydney’s full interview with Kelsey, where she talks about her recovery, her patriotism and her faith in God.

When she isn’t fulfilling her Olympic dreams, Plum is a guard for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, where she’s been since 2017 when she was the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft.

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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