The 'special' inspiration that drove Mills' Tokyo heroics

1 month ago 8
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Back on home soil after his heroics at the Tokyo Olympics, Boomers star Patty Mills has revealed how a "special" set-up at the athlete's village helped inspire him.

Mills was instrumental in leading Australia to claim their first men's basketball medal at the Olympics, with victory over Slovenia in the bronze medal game in Tokyo.

The NBA star - who was signed by the Brooklyn Nets during his Olympics campaign - spoke openly about how motivated he and other members of the Boomers were to deliver a medal for Australia and continue to build on the strong culture within the team to lead to more success in the future.

Patty Mills #5 and Joe Ingles #7 of Team Australia react against Team Slovenia (Getty)

Mills said it took the entire Boomers squad and staff to buy into that culture for it to succeed, but he was also thankful to the Australian Olympic Committee for an additional source of inspiration he found in their headquarters in the athletes' village.

"I have got to give a lot of credit to the AOC and the environment they were able to create inside the village," Mills told Nine's Today.

"For me being on the other side of the world for so long, coming back to the village and seeing the set up - we had kids drawings, they had foods and music and sounds that made it feel at home, so that when you sat down and had conversations with other athletes it really hit differently.

Patty Mills #5 of Australia's Boomers (Getty)

"It made it feel like it was at home for sure. Those interactions with other athletes and how their journey had gone to get to this point, it was really special and I think it inspired me as well."

Mills said he's finally been able to reflect on the Boomers' remarkable achievement while in quarantine back in Australia.

"There was relief - a massive relief," he said.

"We knew what was at stake. We knew how long we'd been working for this medal to get on the podium as well as everything in the past. We just tried to build up a legacy.

"The relief came that we had done it and now we've opened up a can of worms for the future of what's to come.

Patty Mills congratulates Kevin Durant on USA's gold at the Tokyo medal ceremony (Getty)

"That was the most important thing, for us to know we can get over the hump and can get on the podium and now we've done that there's a meaningful wave for the next generation to come in and really feel this culture, because we do have some really big stars coming in, guys that are on the team, guys that are still yet to make the team.

"We're now only three years away from Paris and for us to keep getting better and to reach higher goals is the way to move forward."

The Boomers had never won a medal at the Olympics until Tokyo. They'd come close many times before but fell heartbreakingly short, finishing fourth four times at the Games, usually behind the gold standard in men's basketball, the USA, and European powerhouses.

Brian Goorjian and Patty Mills celebrate bronze. (Getty)

Their Tokyo triumph did not happen overnight however. Mills was one of the senior members of the team that drove the message home within the team about what they were playing for, and the pride and power in that green and gold shirt.

"It's one of those things that you trust the preparation and for us preparation has gone back a number of years," Mills said.

"Also what helps with that pressure is our culture and how this team came together as a group to be able to create history.

"I couldn't be more proud of each and every one of these boys on this team, the coaching staff and extended staff because it did feel different and I think that is because of our culture and what we're able to tap into."

Patty Mills #5 of Australia's Boomers (Getty)

Mills was also given the flag-bearer role for the 2021 Games, and it was an honour that he was still coming to terms with.

"That's actually the one that's taking a lot more time to sink in," he said.

"It's such an unbelievable honour and privilege and to share that moment with Cate [Campbell] was a very powerful message to be able to do it together.

"I did take a lot of pride in it and obviously me being a proud Australian and being a role model to be able to inspire the next generation in multiple areas, so that moment with Cate it meant a lot to me and hopefully a lot to other people as well."

Patty Mills (Getty)

Mills is now setting his sights to having a strong year in the NBA alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the resurgent Brooklyn Nets, with one eye on the Paris Olympics in 2024.

"Very blessed with the rose gold we've got but we've got to get a gold medal in Paris and it's only three years away," he said.

Flag bearers Cate Campbell and Patty Mills of Team Australia lead their team in during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Getty)

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