By Karen Price | July 27, 2019, 2:30 p.m. (ET)

The U.S. women's basketball team at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

The U.S. women’s basketball team has a place in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 already secured, and now it’ll have more opportunities to prepare than in years past.

On Saturday, USA Basketball announced a new training program and plan, designed in collaboration with both the WNBA and the national team athletes themselves, that will include not only five training segments between November and April 2020 but also exhibition games against NCAA teams and participation in FIBA’s new Olympic qualifying competitions in both November and February 2020.

The U.S. women’s team has won the past six Olympic gold medals. 

Eight athletes from the national team have committed to participating in five training segments beginning in November, with additional roster members to be added as their schedules allow. The eight athletes are Olympians Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Sylvia Fowles and Elena Delle Donne, as well as Nneka Ogwumike, A’ja Wilson, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Chelsea Gray. Twelve players will make the final Olympic team.

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“I’m very excited about this program,” said Bird, a four-time Olympian, in a statement provided by USA Basketball. “It’s the right amount of training so we can gear up and get ready for the Olympics, and also it gives us the right amount of exposure where we can really create some momentum heading into the Olympics. It’s not only about trying to win another gold medal, it’s about trying to win our seventh in a row, that’s the story. It gives us a chance to do all of those things, but above all it gives us a chance to get together as potential Olympians and play.”

Prior to the FIBA tournaments, the U.S. team will take on some of the nation’s top college programs in exhibition matches as a way to not only log additional playing time together but also help raise the visibility of the team around the country and inspire young athletes, women and girls. That game schedule will be announced at a later date.

In addition, USA Basketball will work with the WNBA, NCAA, NBA and other entities to provide additional training opportunities throughout the year. The national team will also participate in 2019 FIBA AmeriCup Sept. 22-29 in Puerto Rico. 

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.