Delving into all things Commonwealth Games between now and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
We recap the week that was, chat to a Games star of the past, present or future and take a look at the week ahead for our Commonwealth Games aspirants.
EPISODE 14: JENNI SCREEN
Former Australian Opal Jennifer Screen reflects on the heartbreak she felt at missing the 2006 Melbourne Games and details her struggle to come to terms with the disappointment.
The 2006 world-champion also chats about giving back to the new wave of basketball talent in her role as head of delegation with the Emerging Opals at the World University Games.
Former Australian Opal Jenni Screen says missing out on the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games was the turning point of her career.
Screen says she distinctly remembers the moment her Commonwealth dreams were crushed.
“I remember getting the phone call – I lived on Swan Street with Craig and Neil [Mottram] at the time. We were waiting for that phone call from the coach and that was Jan Sterling at the time.”
“Neil was off to training with the Melbourne Tigers [and] he got the call. He rang me and goes ‘Hi babe, I made it, have you got the call yet?’ I said no I better get off the phone and five minutes later I get the call and I don’t make it.”
The opening ceremony proceedings were something that Screen had difficulty facing up to.
“Watching that opening ceremony – while I was so proud of my husband, now Neil, and Craig – it was the hardest two hours of my life.”
The women’s basketball gold medal match was no different.
“It was at Olympic Boulevard in Melbourne and I sat out the front on the steps whilst the girls played. As selfish as that sounds I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.”
While her omission was a bitter pill to swallow, Screen used it as a springboard to launch the rest of her glittering career.
“I used that and I went back to the AIS. I was 25 at the time and I went back and trained with all the youngsters and did a camp with them for a month,” she said.
“I knew I had to be ready to come back and try and make that world championship team and lucky for me I did and I got to stand on that podium as a world champion.”
Screen is now focused on giving back to the next wave of Opals at the World University Games.
“I’m fortunate enough to be here with the Emerging Opals program, which basketball Australia put together to use this platform for girls that are coming through our basketball system as an opportunity to be seen [and] experience international basketball,” she said.
“I’m filling up their water bottles and wiping the sweat away from their brow – which mind you is probably one of the most tired times of my career that I’ve actually experienced.”
One of her many jobs is to act as a listening ear for the athletes.
“In tournament play anxiety can be quite high and we can get caught up sometimes in trivial things and I’m just there as a sounding board for the girls.”
“You need someone you can just go to and have a moment with and it could be an emotional moment [or] it could be trying to get advice and that’s what I see myself as.”
The experience has given Screen an appreciation for the role.
“I messaged our Opals manager from the eight years that I had and I just said to her ‘Marion Stewart I’m not sure I ever said thankyou enough because I have just learnt and appreciated what it is like to be a manager and it is a thankless task’.”