America’s foremost sports power couple was already wildly impressive heading into the Tokyo Olympics, but now, the Bird-Rapinoe household has two more medals to fit in its trophy case.
US Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe was on hand to watch her fiancée, WNBA and USA Basketball legend Sue Bird, win a record fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo on Sunday. Bird explained after the game that the pink-haired striker “somehow finagled a media credential” to cheer for her future wife in-person just three days after winning bronze with the women’s soccer team.
They celebrated the big win with a kiss, and cameras caught the tender moment. So did the NBC broadcast.
Earlier, during a mid-game TV interview on NBC, Rapinoe said she was “honestly so thankful that I actually get to be here.”
“I got a little work-around and made my way into the stadium,” she added. “I was determined to come and watch this game no matter what.”
And she made the most of it. Rapinoe was spotted sitting in the stands alongside sportscasters Maria Taylor, Mary Carillo, and LaChina Robinson as Bird helped Team USA take an early lead.
The 34-year-old California native was beaming with pride while watching her fiancée, and she told fans back home that she admired “everything” about Bird – both in basketball and in life.
“The way she goes about her business, the person that she is, the leader that she is on the floor, and obviously she’s still just amazing,” Rapinoe said on the NBC broadcast. “I always tell her she’s Benjamin Button – she’s aging backwards. She could play as long as she wanted. But I think it’s all the little moments that everyone doesn’t get to see. Just how hard she’s worked and how much this means to her to go for her fifth gold medal.”
“The fact that I get to be here just means the world to me,” she added.
Then Rapinoe went on to describe Bird’s efforts to pursue her dreams as “really inspiring” before tearing up on air.
“I told her the other day, it feels like corny to say, but it’s like everything you would want in someone that you would look up to,” Rapinoe said. “And then obviously I get to be with her, and I love her, and that’s the most special part, but she just does things the right way, and she plays with a sense of joy. She makes everyone else around her better, on and off the court.”
“She’s just such an amazing person – I’m gonna start tearing up here,” she added while fanning her eyes. “You’re gonna make me cry on national TV! Get me outta here!”
After securing her fifth gold medal, Bird gushed about Rapinoe and told the media she felt “very lucky” to celebrate the feat with her in-person.
“Obviously, when your partner, your fiancée, is also in the Olympics, you would love to go and be able to support them, be around them, to give any kind of support possible,” Bird said in her post-game press conference. “… I feel very lucky that [Rapinoe] was here to witness it, to share it with me.”
When Bird embraced Rapinoe in the stands after the game, the 40-year-old point guard said she “just went over and obviously told her I loved her and told her I was tired… and she told me she was happy and proud of me.”
“And then, of course, I’m so proud of her and her team for winning their bronze medal,” Bird added. “The Olympics is hard, guys. It’s really hard. There’s so much pressure involved. And so to have both of us medal is something that I know we’ll take that memory with us forever.”
The pair are now on the brink of retirement. Bird had hinted that her career was nearing its end before the Olympics, and she confirmed that Tokyo would be the final Olympics of her illustrious basketball career.
Rapinoe, meanwhile, is six years Bird’s younger and likely could extend her USWNT tenure into the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and, later, into the 2024 Olympics in Paris. But it’s unclear whether the prolific scorer is interested in prolonging her career, and she hinted that Tokyo could have been the end of her international campaign during a tearful interview following the USWNT’s semifinal loss to Canada.
Regardless, with six Olympic gold medals, six World Cups, three NCAA championships, four WNBA championships, and two NWSL shields between them, the tandem has plenty to brag about already. Anything beyond that – as Bird said in October 2020 – is just a bonus.
Source: Meredith Cash