- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Crystal Langhorne knows what it’s like to win a gold medal. In fact, the Washington Mystics forward has two.

As a member of the USA Basketball team during her college days at Maryland, she won gold in 2005 with the Under-19 World Championship team in Tunisia and in 2007 with the U-21 World Championship team in Russia.

With the WNBA on a month-long hiatus for the Olympics, Langhorne has more time on her hands than usual. When she’s not at practice, she’s keeping an eye on the games.

“I am proud of the way they’re representing our country,” Langhorne said, “and I hope one day I can be a part of Team USA.”

A place on the 2016 Olympic team, which will compete in Rio de Janeiro, is a possibility for Langhorne, 25, a two-time All-Star (2010, 2011) and the Mystics’ leading scorer at 16.6 points per game.

Age is not a factor — six players on this year’s 12-member Olympic team are older than 30.

Langhorne also was the first player chosen this year as part of the Mystics’ all-time team, in commemoration of the franchise’s 15-year anniversary. The other players selected so far are Murriel Page and Vicky Bullett.

Page, who the Mystics chose with the third overall pick in their inaugural season, spent eight seasons in Washington (1998-2006) before being traded to the Los Angeles Sparks.

Bullett was a two-time Olympian (1988, 1992) and spent six seasons in the WNBA, three with the Charlotte Sting and three with the Mystics, and was an assistant coach and manager of basketball operations for the Mystics in 2009.

The all-time team will be announced Aug. 19 during the first home game after the Olympic break, when the Mystics will host the Chicago Sky.

“It’s a huge honor for me to be named to the all-time team,” Langhorne said. “I’m truly honored to be a part it, and to be a part of this organization.”

Selected sixth overall in 2008, Langhorne has spent her entire five-year career with Washington. The team has made the playoffs twice in Langhorne’s tenure, in 2009 and 2010, but was swept in the first round both times.

Although Langhorne has achieved some accolades, including Most Improved Player in 2009 and making the second-team All-WNBA in 2010, she finds the Mystics’ state of affairs confusing and frustrating. Washington is 4-14, worst in the Eastern Conference and third-worst record in the league. Last year, the Mystics were 6-28.

“We’re going to have to figure it out,” Langhorne said. “We can’t keep going down by double digits in games. We think we’re better than this. We just have to keep fighting.”

When the season resumes, Langhorne will be surrounded by Olympians, including Sky players Sylvia Fowles and Swin Cash, and Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom, who won gold with the 1988 team in Seoul. Gillom is an assistant coach for the U.S. this summer.

Langhorne says it’s hard to watch the team compete in London and not think about what could be in 2016.

“I still want to accomplish so much more,” she said. “It gives me the incentive to drive even harder.”

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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