Athletes across the country live for the dream of that one chance to represent the United States at the highest level of competition. University of Georgia's Teresa Edward did so five times, winning four gold and one bronze. In 2012 at the London Games, Edwards complete a lifelong circle after the U.S. Olympic Committee appointed her as Chef de Mission.
"It's an honor to be called upon to serve in a manner of this magnitude," Edwards said. "It completes an Olympic circle; it completes another Olympic ring for me. Knowing that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity; you only get chosen once and you're called upon in a distinguished manner to represent this position, I feel very privileged."
As Chef de Mission for the 2012 Olympic Team, Edwards served as the primary liaison between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the London officials. This is not the first instance that Edwards has been asked to represent the U.S. in the Olympics. The most decorated Olympic basketball player to date was also asked to recite the Athletic Oath at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.
Edwards became the youngest women's basketball player to be invited to play for a USA Basketball national tournament team when she was a member of the South team at the National Sports Festival in the summer of 1981. She holds the unique distinction in women's basketball of being both the youngest gold medalist (age 20 in 1984) and the oldest gold medalist (age 36in 2000). In total, she competed for the United States in international competition a total of 19 times, winning 14 gold medals.
A native of Cairo, Georgia, Edwards was a four-year starter for her high school team, scoring 1,982 career points; which culminated with the honor of being named Georgia's High School Player of the Year in 1982. Edwards did not stray far from home to launch her collegiate playing career. Coached by the legendary Andy Landers, Edwards was able to build her tremendous skill set that led the Lady Bulldogs to the Final Four in 1983 and an NCAA runner-up finish in 1985.
From the start, Edwards played a significant role for UGA as she led the Lady Bulldogs to their first-ever NCAA Final Four her freshman campaign. As a two-time All-American, Edwards also helped the Lady Bulldogs compile three SEC Championships.
After college, Edwards played most of her career abroad, in Italy, Japan and France. She was the player/coach for the Atlanta Glory in the short-lived American Basketball League, playing in the inaugural game for the league. She was selected by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2003 WNBA Draft and played two seasons with the Lynx.
In December 2006, Edwards returned to the Lynx as an assistance coach. Edwards later spent time as an assistant coach for the Tulsa Shock and the Atlanta Dream.
The achievements Edwards has been able to attain during her career are nothing short of astounding. The first female basketball player in U.S. history to compete in five Olympic Games, she was honored by being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. She was also honored in 2013 with an induction into the FIBA Hall of Fame. Edwards prolific career in women's basketball also landed her 22nd on Sports Illustrated magazine top 100 greatest female athletes of the 20th century.