Sue Bird is no stranger to having success at the Olympics. At 40 years old, Bird has participated in four Olympics dating back to Athens in 2004. She has four gold medals to her name, and she's hopeful that she'll be able to bring home a fifth from Tokyo.
As part of our preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to a wide range of athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the field of play.
Here’s some of what we found out about Sue Bird:
Tell us about your family.
Nancy Bird - Mom
Herschel Bird - Dad
Jen Bird - Sister
Odysseus Kostas - Brother in Law
Zoe Kostas - Niece
Alexandra Kostas - Niece
Megan Rapinoe - Girlfriend
Where does your family come from?
Dad's side is Russian. Mom's side is European (mostly British and Irish).
Parent influence on athletic career?
They were both very supportive and I took on both of their personalities as a player.
How has your hometown shaped who you are today?
Syosset gave me a wonderful childhood and allowed me opportunity while simultaneously challenging me.
Where else have you lived?
I spent almost all of my childhood in Syosset, NY, but I transferred to a high school in Queens, NY (Christ the King) for my junior and senior years. Living in the suburbs and inner city of NY shaped who I am.
How much time do you train? How much do you sleep?
It depends, but anywhere from two to four hours a day. I generally get eight to nine hours of sleep.
Typical training day?
My typical day is wake up at 8 AM. Eat breakfast. Work out at 11 AM. Eat Lunch. Enjoy the rest of my day. My workout varies and includes everything from basketball to lifting to Pilates to swim to spin class and so on.
What's your favorite workout?
Anything basketball related. But I really enjoy swimming and Pilates too.
What's the most grueling workout you've ever done?
Megaformer classes are so hard.
Earliest memory of playing basketball?
I saw women's basketball before the 1996 Atlanta Games, but it was at that point in my life where I really paid attention. I was 14 or 15 when the USA team was preparing for that Games and they did so by traveling the world for a year. One stop was Philadelphia, where they played an exhibition game against the Chinese National Team. My AAU coach drove myself and some of my teammates to the game and that was the first time I saw the team live. It was also the first time I thought that being an Olympian would be my ultimate goal.
Specific breakthrough moment?
I had just finished my sophomore year of college during the summer of 2000. I played for a USA team that competed in the Jones Cup. We also got to play the Senior National Team in an exhibition game as they began their journey to the Sydney Olympics. I didn't play amazing or anything, but I left that game knowing that I could compete with that level of player. My college coach was the assistant coach for that team and when he returned from Sydney he told me that if I wanted to be the PG one day I had the tools. The combination of my experience and his words made me realize it could really happen.
What would you change about your sport?
In my opinion, we are the one sport that gets compared to our male counterpart -- to the point of nauseam. Of course a lot of female sports get compared to the men, but for basketball it never stops and because of it we are always looked down upon. Or viewed as less-than. I wish we could be appreciated for what we do from a talent perspective versus what we can't do physically.
Who do you socialize with most within your sport?
My teammate Diana Taurasi is one of my best friends. My girlfriend, Megan, plays for the U.S. soccer team. I'm also close with a lot of her teammates.
Any pre-competition rituals?
Of course. Nothing weird, just a routine that I stick to. It involves a nap.
How do you unwind after a competition?
Go to dinner with teammates and friends.
Advice you'd give a young player?
Have fun! Playing sports is supposed to be fun. There are so many life lessons to be learned while playing (what working hard means, what it means to play well with others, etc.) but it has to be fun first and foremost!