Tokyo Olympics: Basketball 5×5 – Meet the Coaches

About Basketball in the Olympic Games

Basketball first featured in the Olympic Games St. Louis 1904 as a demonstration sport, but it wasn’t until Berlin 1936 that men’s basketball appeared on the Olympic programme. Meanwhile, the women’s game made its Olympic debut almost 40 years later at Montreal 1976. Professional players have been allowed to participate at the Olympics since Barcelona 1992, when the USA ‘Dream Team’ won gold. Since then, NBA players have continued to feature on their national teams, attracting attention with their outstanding skills.

There will be 12 teams competing in both men’s and women’s basketball at the Tokyo 2020 Games, where they will be split into two groups for the preliminary round before the top eight teams advance to the quarterfinals.

Female Coaches

For this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, there are 12 teams competing for the Gold medal. Out of those 12 teams, 5 have female Head Coaches – that is a percentage of 41.6%

Meet those 5 female Head Coaches below:


Dawn Staley – USA

Dawn Staley is an American basketball Hall of Fame player and coach, who is currently the head coach for South Carolina, and The United States of America. Staley is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and was elected to carry the United States flag at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics. After playing point guard for the University of Virginia under Debbie Ryan, and winning the gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics, she went to play professionally in the American Basketball League and the WNBA. In 2011, Staley was voted in by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history. Staley was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. She was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

While still a WNBA player, she started coaching the Temple University Owls women’s basketball team in 2000. In eight years at Temple, she led the program to six NCAA tournaments, three regular season conference championships, and four conference tournament titles.

On May 7, 2008, she was named head coach for women’s basketball at the University of South Carolina. Staley built South Carolina from the ground up, over the following six seasons, she improved her program’s record every year, culminated by winning the SEC in 2013–2014. In late 2014 her team achieved the program’s first #1 ranking, making her only the second individual to both play on and coach a #1 ranked team. Staley has gone on to lead South Carolina to five SEC regular season championships, six SEC tournament championships, seven Sweet Sixteens, three Final Fours, and on April 2, 2017, she guided the South Carolina Gamecocks to the program’s first NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship.

On March 10, 2017, she was named head coach of USA national team.


Sandy Brondello – Australia

Sandy” Brondello) is an Australian women’s basketball coach, and the current coach of the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. Brondello played in Australia, Germany and the WNBA before retiring to become a coach. The 1.70 m (5’7″) Brondello is one of Australia’s all-time best shooting guards. She played on Australia’s “Opals” national team at four Summer Olympics, and won three medals (one bronze, two silvers). She attended the Australian Institute of Sport in 1986–1987,[and was inducted to the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.


Lisa Thomaidis – Canada

Lisa Thomaidis is a Canadian basketball coach for the Canada women’s national basketball team. She is also the head coach of the Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball program, winning the Bronze Baby National Championship Trophy in 2016 and 2020.

Starting in 1998, Thomaidis began coaching women’s basketball at the University of Saskatchewan. Throughout her career as coach for the Saskatchewan Huskies, she led the team to multiple Canada West titles, with their first championship win in 2006.Outside the University of Saskatchewan, Thomaidis was an assistant coach for Canada women’s national basketball team from 2002 to 2013, which included a quarter final performance at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

In 2013, she replaced Allison McNeill as head coach and her team won silver at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women. Following her promotion, Thomaidis led Canada’s women’s basketball team to a fifth place finish at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women and a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games. Recently, Thomaidis’s team came in seventh at the 2016 Summer Olympics and won a gold medal at the 2017 FIBA Women’s AmeriCup.


Valérie Garnier – France

Valérie Garnier, born January 9 1965 in Cholet , is a coach and a former player French of basketball . She succeeds Pierre Vincent at the head of the France team women in August 2013.

Valérie Garnier learned to play basketball at Jallais in Cholet in Maine-et-Loire where she accompanied her father coach / player in the village club. The player evolves at the time in national 4. Former international, she won three times the title of champion of France with the BAC Mirande . Alain Jardel discovers when he coached the junior selection and Valérie Garnier brand 45 points against his with the Pays-de-Loire. He convinces her to join the BAC Mirande, where it becomes as leader over from Jardel on the ground. It is very close to her after the liquidation of the club, help to pass his coaching diploma and hired him as an assistant in the national teams. In December 2010, they oppose for the first time as coach of Tarbes and Toulouse  .

Although still under contract with Toulouse, relegated to LF2, she approached and engaged by Bourges to replace Pierre Vincent  .  His first season with his new club ended with a championship of France, the eleventh in the club’s history  .  The succession of Pierre Vincent was discussed after the defeat against Mondeville the Prado, the fourth loss in tango League in ten days: “I knew Valerie was not a whim. She came out of a season where she won two matches with Toulouse. She took after Pierre Vincent. But I always assumed my decision. I knew she could match what the club needed  .  “

In 2013, she won her second championship title as coach of Bourges. That same year, she was named Chevalier of the National Order of Merit  .

During the summer of 2012, she found the France squad by becoming the assistant to Pierre Vincent, selection aimed one of five qualifying places for the Olympic Games of London awarded during the pre-Olympic tournament played in Istanbul.  The goal is more than achieved since France wins the silver medal in London  .

In the absence of Pierre Vincent retained by the play-offs with ASVEL, Valérie Garnier directs the team in some friendlies and training sessions  .  She succeeded him as head of the French selection, August 27, 2013  and reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup.


Marina Maljković – Serbia

As a daughter of a famous Serbian coach, four-times Euroleague winner Božidar Maljković, Marina Maljković has been given an opportunity to start coaching career at the age of 16, when she became an assistant coach in Abeilles de Rueil, a French club she was playing for at the time.

Maljković was an assistant coach of the Serbia and Montenegro national Under-18 team, which has achieved fourth place at the 2004 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship for Women, as well as Serbia and Montenegro national Under-19 team at the 2005 FIBA Under-19 World Championship for Women, which has won the silver medal after finals loss to the team USA.

In August 2011, Maljković has been appointed head coach of the Serbia women’s national basketball team. At the EuroBasket Women 2013, Serbia national team managed to pass into the semifinals, which was the greatest national team success since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. Aged 32, Maljković was the youngest, and the only female head coach at the championship.

She led the team once again at the EuroBasket 2015 in Budapest where they won the gold medal, and qualified for the 2016 Olympics, first in the history for the Serbian team. In the autumn of 2015, she extended her contract with the Basketball Federation of Serbia to be the team’s selector over next four years; she also requested that one third of her salary be forwarded to all 12 clubs of the First Women’s Basketball League of Serbia.

On 14 December 2017, Maljković has been appointed head coach of the Serbia national team for the second time.