Burning desire for gold

MATTHEW NIELSEN will tell you there's something about captaining the Boomers to a gold medal that makes him dribble his words. Ask the former Penrith junior how much it'd mean to see the team on the dais in London and he can't help himself: "Amazing, the absolute pinnacle of my career, to dream of that would just, far out, you can see me just blabbering," he blabbered. "It'd be unbelievable and your question really made me visualise it. It'd be awesome and absolutely everything I could hope for in basketball."

Nielsen, 34, a soon-to-be three-time Olympian, is the Boomers' skipper and he's intent on guiding them to the podium. "We want to medal and it's not something I say lightly. It's what we're aiming for and what we believe we can achieve — not just a statement."

Games preparation was so fierce their coach occasionally had to cancel training. "That's the beauty of the Australian attitude. We go pretty hard so the coaches pull off practices."

He got into basketball at Penrith High and captained the Australian side at the Beijing Olympics in 2008..

¦Nielsen and the Boomers' first day of competition is Sunday, July 29.

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