Whalen savoring her Olympic spot

The Lynx point guard and former Gophers star called the opportunity "one of the goals you have growing up."

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Lindsay Whalen at the Target Center after the Lynx won the WNBA championship.

Photo: Brian Peterson , Star Tribune

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Lindsay Whalen is listed fifth among the most notable people from Hutchinson, Minn., by Wikipedia.

It might be time to move her up on that list. On Friday, the Lynx point guard was named to the U.S. women's basketball team that will compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The former Gophers star is an Olympian. So, too, are two of her teammates on the WNBA's 2011 championship team, guard Seimone Augustus and forward Maya Moore. Eight other players from the league also were named to Team USA; only the Lynx and the Chicago Sky with two had multiple representatives.

"Playing [in] the Olympics is one of the goals you have growing up, and playing for a gold medal is the ultimate goal," Whalen said on Saturday during a teleconference call from Europe, where she is playing pro basketball. "Playing for your country and your hometown, your state ... it's really a special thing."

Whalen is expected to share most of the ballhandling duties with Sue Bird of Seattle.

In 2010, Whalen and Moore played on the U.S. team that went unbeaten in winning the World Championships in the Czech Republic and thereby qualifying for these Olympics. That team played nine games in 11 days.

"We relied on everyone on the team," Whalen said. "Everyone stepped up and contributed."

Whalen said she was in the national pool of candidates for the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- in which Augustus participated -- but couldn't make some of Team USA's training camps and wasn't chosen. "Some of the players were having great seasons and deserved it ahead of me," Whalen said. "They won the gold medal, so they did a great job."

Whalen said she is just thankful and happy to be part of the next Olympic team. "I just want to do whatever I can to help," she said. "However that goes and whatever coach [Geno Auriemma] wants me to do, I'm going to do as good as I can."

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