Basketball superstar and Olympic medallist Patty Mills says culture and mindfulness were key to the Boomers’ success at the Tokyo Olympics.
- Patty Mills led the Boomers to the first men’s basketball medal at the Tokyo Olympics
- The four-time Olympian also carried the flag at the opening ceremony
- He says the historic medal victory hasn’t sunk in yet, and says his family and culture have kept him grounded
“I think that culture plays a big part in being able to connect with each and every, you know, player, coach, staff member that’s involved in that tight group,” he told 7.30.
“Because at the end of the day, it’s those people that are inside the locker room that are going to make an impact on the outcome and the results on a day-to-day basis.
“If the team can have, you know, core values that they all can abide by and live by on a daily basis, I think that’s a good starting point.”
The team secured a historic medal victory for Australia – its first ever in basketball – and Boomers captain Patty Mills say it still hasn’t fully sunk in.
“I’d like to say that it’s sunk in given that it’s been a few weeks, but I catch myself still waking up in the morning and checking the bedside table to see if the medal is actually there,” he said.
He says the pressures of operating at such an elite level in any sport can get to an athlete, but he believes his family and culture are what ground him.
“And I think that has really kept the steady ship for me, no matter what adversity or hurdles that may come my way, that there’s always a way around them.
“It’s just learning from those experiences as you go on, and [you] can keep on finding ways to get better and keep on improving.”
Conquering the mental game
Mills has been playing basketball for nearly three decades, and says he doesn’t often get asked if playing is still fun.
“At the end of the day it always comes back to fun, and if you are enjoying it, that comes out in your play as well,” he said.
“So for me it’s always been fun and I think it always will be.”
But Mills told 7.30 that it isn’t just fun that brings success – there’s a lot of other elements at play as well.
“One thing that has kept me steady throughout the whole journey is just my understanding of who I am, first and foremost,” he said.
Mills also broke another record at the Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first Indigenous Australian to carry the country’s flag in the opening ceremony.
He says his Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture not only grounds him, but motivates him to give back to the community. He wants people to be “proud of who they are.”
“I’m in a position to be able to make an impact and give back,” he said.
“The best part of the whole thing for me is that it inspires me and gives me the strength and energy to go back to the other side of the world, and go back to work and work hard.”
Mills also wants people to dream big, like he did.
“I fully believe that, you know, people got to be able to see it to believe that they can do it,” he said.
“And if I’m evidence of that, then that’s a starting point.”
Watch Patty Mills’s interview on 7.30 tonight on ABC TV and iview.