IF Jenni Screen was going to have to return to Australia ‘‘ugly’’ she wanted to do it with an Olympic Games medal.
And with a bruised and bloodshot eye, the Novocastrian’s Olympic wish came true when the Opals won bronze by beating Russia 83-74 in London yesterday morning.
Just two days after being unsure if she had fractured her cheek, Screen battled through blurry vision to help the Opals clinch a nine-point win.
It was an amazing 48-hour turnaround after the 30-year-old was left inconsolable following a semi-final loss to the United States.
But there were no tears as she walked off the court triumphant, even if she remains undecided on whether she will continue her basketball career.
‘‘I had a bit of double vision so it was a bit of a struggle, but I would have played with one leg today,’’ Screen said.
‘‘You play for a lifetime to get a medal and we got it and that’s awesome. Two days ago was devastating and to pick back up is pretty special.
‘‘There was a fair bit of bleeding on the eyeball, but nothing was going to stop me from playing.
‘‘I wasn’t going home ugly without a medal, that was goal number one. Now we’ll just reassess everything.’’
It was the first time since 1996 that the Opals hadn’t been in the gold medal match.
Most of the team was left in tears when they lost to the US and Screen’s pain was compounded by having to sit out the second half after her eye was swollen.
But that anguish was erased when they held off a late charge from Russia to ensure they won a medal for the fifth consecutive Olympics.
It could also serve as a farewell match for a host of stars.
Kristi Harrower will likely retire, Screen is unsure whether she wants to start a family, Lauren Jackson doesn’t know whether she’ll be in Rio in 2016 and neither does Suzy Batkovic.
If it was the last outing, it was a superb way to go out.
Novocastrian Batkovic stood tall and had 17 points and eight rebounds before she was fouled out in the last quarter.
The 31-year-old was disappointed with her semi-final performance, saying she had been ‘‘quiet’’.
But she made amends to claim the bronze medal.
‘‘This is much better to not knowing how to feel when you lose that final,’’ Batkovic said. ‘‘I think I got in the game a bit earlier and I was just feeling it.
‘‘For me and Loz, being 31, we can probably push out another [Olympics], but it just depends on the body.
‘‘I can sit here today and say I feel good, but in two years I don’t know. I can’t answer at the moment, I have to wait and see what the body does.’’