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BASKETBALL: Colling makes Olympic cut

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has confirmed the twelve players who will make up New Zealand's first ever women's Olympic basketball team in Sydney in September.

Kirstin Daly, who made her first international appearance fifteen years ago as a 17-year-old, will captain the New Zealand team.

After a four-year absence from the national programme, 37-year-old Leone Patterson has been recalled. Patterson, a former captain of the Tall Ferns for five years, is now based in San Francisco.

Hard work and dedication has ensured that Waikato's Tania Brunton made the squad. Brunton has battled back from major surgery on her knee in 1997 to secure her Olympic spot.

Last year Belinda Colling and Donna Loffhagen were targeting netball glory as members of the Silver Ferns squad at the world championships in Christchurch. This September it will be Olympic glory they are chasing. Both Loffhagen and Colling were members of the New Zealand netball team at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.

Sisters Gina and Sally Farmer hail from Christchurch but while Sally is now in Auckland working as a sports development officer, Gina has carved a professional career for Launceston in the Australian Basketball League.

Megan Compain will add her vast experience of American basketball to the squad. Compain became the first New Zealand women's player to secure a contract with the women's N.B.A. in the United States when she was signed by the Utah Starzz in May 1997.

New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary General Michael Hooper believes it is a wonderful moment for the sport.

"With Australia qualifying as host nation, Sydney 2000 is the perfect opportunity for our best women's players to make the rest of the world take notice of another Oceania basketball nation."

Basketball New Zealand President Peter Crowhen said he's delighted with how the women's programme has begun its Olympic campaign with a highly successful test series against Slovakia.

"The team knew this was their first chance to make an impact against other Olympic qualifiers and earn the respect of the international basketball scene."

"We are going to play Brazil and Canada in Australia during August and we hope to have Cuba in New Zealand during July, so this team has a great programme to prepare them for their first Olympic experience," Crowhen said.

New Zealand's Olympic Women's Basketball Team is:
Kirstin Daly © (Taranaki)
Gina Farmer (Launceston, Australia)
Sally Farmer (Auckland)
Rebecca Cotton (Wellington)
Donna Loffhagen (Otago)
Tania Brunton (Waikato)
Leanne Walker (Waikato)
Julie Ofsoski (Ayr, Queensland)
Leone Patterson (USA)
Dianne L'ami (Taranaki)
Belinda Colling (Otago)
Megan Compain (Wellington)

Coach: Carl Dickel
Assistant Coach: Tracy Carpenter
Manager: Kim Lucas

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