October 03, 2014

ISTANBUL (AP) Three-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings plans to retire after the 2016 Rio Games.

''Yes, I will be retiring in 2016, Lord willing, if my body holds up.'' Catchings said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday. ''Although I plan to step away as a player, that is not to say I'll step away from the game, hopefully.''

The 35-year-old Indiana star will play two more WNBA summer seasons for the Fever. Catchings has played her entire professional career with the team, winning a title in 2012.

''I know Tamika is relieved to get this announcement out; she has talked informally about wanting to play through the 2016 season as she continues to look at what is next in her extraordinary basketball career,'' Fever President and GM Kelly Krauskopf said. ''I am proud that she will have played her entire career in an Indiana Fever uniform.''

Catchings was drafted in 2001 after playing at Tennessee, but she had to sit out the WNBA season while recovering from a torn ACL. She earned rookie of the year honors the next season. She's guided the Fever to the playoffs in 10 straight seasons.

She first publicly discussed her retirement plans on Indiana television station WTHR at a charity event on Thursday.

The five-time WNBA defensive player of the year is sitting out of the current world championship in Turkey after missing the first 17 games of the Fever season with back problems.

She has clearly made her mark on the defensive end of the court. Catchings owns the WNBA's all-time steals record, nearly 200 in front of the next player.

''There's so many different aspects to Tamika that you could talk about, not only the basketball, but how she is as a person and teammate,'' said Minnesota Lynx star and Olympic teammate Maya Moore. ''The way she has represented the U.S. for so many years, she's been a great role model and leader for what it looks like to have a successful professional basketball career.''


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