LONDON (AP) — Swin Cash's Olympic basketball career has come full circle.
She was part of the U.S. women's team that won a gold medal in Athens and the 32-year-old thought she'd be on the way to at least two more gold medals. Those dreams were derailed by back surgery in 2008 that forced her to miss the Beijing Games.
Cash thought about quitting, but didn't want her Olympic dreams or her career to end on a sour note.
"I was in the prime of my career, the prime of starting my television career," Cash said. "I had to make a choice."
A conversation with five-time Olympian and basketball great Teresa Edwards helped her refocus with one goal in mind — making it to London. Cash didn't say what Edwards told her, but she dedicated herself to getting completely healthy again.
"I was at a point in 2008 where I didn't want to leave this game with people defining who I was as a player," Cash said. "Going out with an injury is not what I wanted my legacy to be."
Now she has a chance to be a two-time Olympic gold medal winner. Next up for Cash and the four-time defending champions is Angola on Monday.
"The last four years have been a humble journey for me. I'm just taking it all in," said Cash, who played in China during the WNBA offseason and worked out whenever she could with her former strength and conditioning coach at Connecticut. "I came in with Dee (Diana Taurasi), Sue (Bird) and Catch (Tamika Catchings) and we all thought we'd win three medals.
"I took one off and now come back and it's a different feeling."
Taurasi, Bird and Catchings are all playing major roles on the U.S. squad and they are looking to add to their two gold medals from 2004 and 2008.
Cash's role on the team has changed, she knows she can contribute and stays ready for whenever and however coach Geno Auriemma needs her.
Cash made an immediate impact in the team's Olympic opener on Saturday, keying a U.S. run that helped the Americans pull away from Croatia. She didn't get in the game until late in the third quarter. But she was ready when her former college coach subbed her in, converting a three-point play early in the fourth quarter that gave the U.S. some breathing room.