Basketball

Pau Gasol returns to Barcelona with eye on Tokyo Games

The two-time NBA champion, who will be 41 in July 2021, is aiming to win a fourth Olympic medal with Spain.

By ZK Goh ·

Three-time Olympic basketball medallist Pau Gasol has signed with Barcelona as the 40-year-old attempts to make his fifth Olympic team.

The 2.16-metre (7-ft) centre represented Spain at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016, winning two silvers and a bronze. However, he has not played since November 2019 with a foot injury.

Now, he is returning to Barcelona – his hometown team and the team he made his professional basketball debut with – with an eye on being selected for this summer's postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Gasol, who won two NBA Championships with the LA Lakers in 2009 and 2010, will be 41 by the time of the Olympic basketball tournament in 2021.

"I'm very happy to announce that I'm coming home and that I'll soon join the ranks of Barça's basketball team," the star, who last played with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, wrote in a statement on social media.

"I'm happy to return to the club where I began, and I'm excited about this new opportunity."

Speaking to the Olympic Channel's Spanish-language podcast last April, he said the Tokyo Games remains on his mind.

"In summer 2021 I'll be 41 which is a challenge, and it's something that excites me, being a very challenge-driven person and always very ambitious.

"There is very much still a desire to be able to play my fifth Olympics, and potentially that being my very last tournament."

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Perfect ending?

One thing Gasol is missing from his collection of honours is Olympic gold, with Spain having lost in the final in both Beijing and London, and losing in the semi-finals in Rio.

"I don't know if there's such a thing as a perfect ending," he told the podcast when asked about how he would like to finish his career, if that happens in Tokyo.

"Obviously winning an Olympic medal, a gold medal, would be – I think – the best possible way that you could think of.

"But life is not perfect. You have to kind of deal with how things come and go."

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