Washington Mystics players Ariel Atkins and Tina Charles are headed to Tokyo this summer. In an exclusive Monday morning interview on NBC’s TODAY show, USA Basketball women’s national team head coach Dawn Staley and long-time guards Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird revealed the members of the 2020 Olympic team.
As you might expect, Taurasi and Bird are on the team. But the bigger story for the Washington Mystics is that Tina Charles and Ariel Atkins have both made the team! This is the first time that any Mystics player has made the team since 2000 when Chamique Holdsclaw and Nikki McCray made the roster.
The other players on this year’s team are Napheesa Collier, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Sylvia Fowles, Jewell Loyd, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson.
Atkins is having an incredible 2021 season. In addition to making her Olympic debut, the 24-year-old is averaging career-best in points per game (19) and rebounds per game (3). This is her first appearance on the team.
“I am very excited and honored to be a part of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team,” said Atkins in a press release from the Mystics. “This is such a surreal moment and while I am extremely thankful, I honestly don’t think it has really hit me yet.”
Charles, 32, will be going for the third Olympic gold medal this summer. Like Atkins, the forward is also having the best season of her career, averaging 24.5 points per game. Charles is currently the WNBA’s leading scorer.
“I am thankful to God for this opportunity to represent my country in the  Tokyo Olympics,” said Charles in a statement. “I don’t take my place on this team for granted. I look forward to the months ahead!”
Elena Delle Donne was not named to the team for her third Olympic appearance. However, she has not played a single game this year due to a back injury she suffered during the 2019 WNBA Finals.
The Mystics will now have four total Olympians this summer. Leilani Mitchell will play for Australia while Emma Meesseman will play for Belgium. Meesseman specifically hasn’t played yet this season because of her participation in Women’s EuroBasket, where the Belgians have made the quarterfinals.
General Manager and Head Coach is very happy about that fact, which you can see below.
Huge congratulations to @tinacharles31 and Ariel Atkins for being selected to Team USA for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics!! Four Olympians in the Mystics family this summer with Leilani Mitchell representing Australia and Emma Meesseman representing Belgium.— Mike Thibault (@coachthibault) June 21, 2021
Finally, Washington basketball fans will be very happy this summer because in addition to the Mystics players, Wizards forward Rui Hachimura will represent Japan and Bradley Beal is reportedly representing Team USA in the men’s tournament.
The women’s Olympic basketball tournament will take place July 26-Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan.