Chasing her Olympic dream, Rae Lin D’Alie will compete for Italy in the Tokyo Olympic games starting in late July.
D’Alie, a former University of Wisconsin basketball standout guard, punched Italy’s ticket to the Olympic games after hitting the game winning shot in the FIBA 3×3 Universality Olympic Qualifying Tournament. After struggling for much of the final Olympic qualifier, D’Alie waited for a screen to free her up for an open shot as the clock slowly ticked away.
D’Alie took matters into her own hands, dribbling in on her opponent before hoisting up the game winning shot and finding nothing but net. D’Alie and her squad are the first Italian basketball team to qualify for the Olympics in 17 years.
“I was 0–9 in the first eight minutes and then closed the game differently than I started,” D’Alie said. “To hit the shot like that was really special.”
In 2017, the International Olympic Committee announced the inclusion of 3×3 in the Tokyo Olympics. The sport took only seven years to grow into an Olympic event.
Representing Italy in the games, D’Alie spoke on how much it means to the country to find success in the sport after a very hard year dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Italy is really proud right now and I’m really grateful because they gave me a chance to be able to play a sport I love in a country that Dad’s side derives from and for me it’s just a dream come true,” D’Alie said.
Earning the MVP award for her heroics, D’Alie’s Olympic dream found new life after the games were postponed a year due to the pandemic.
The Waterford High School graduate committed to UW shortly after her high school career ended. Playing in Madison was a childhood dream turned into a reality, and she quickly found a new home on the team.
Playing with the Badgers from 2006 to 2010, D’Alie set the record for most games started and most consecutive games started in a Badger uniform after starting in 131 of her 132 game career. She ranks second in career assists with 483.
D’Alie is one of the smallest professional or collegiate players in the world, standing at five feet and three inches, but never has let her height make a difference in her work ethic. As a freshman, D’Alie helped earn the Badgers’ first Women’s National Invitation Tournament bid since 2000. In her next two seasons she led the team to two more WNIT bids and made it as far as the Sweet 16 her junior year.
D’Alie made sure to bring her Badger pride overseas with her. “I’m proud to be a Badger! On Wisconsin forever!” D’Alie said.
After finishing her storied Badger career, D’Alie moved to Italy, where she started playing professional basketball. Upon arriving in Italy, D’Alie dreamed of making Italian national team and representing her country in the Olympics.
Crediting her success to family, God and self-determination, D’Alie found 3×3 basketball in the summer of 2016, writing down in her journal her new goal of competing for Olympic gold in the 3×3 games.
After leading Italy to a 3×3 World Cup victory in 2018, where she was also given the MVP honors, D’Alie and the Italian National team joined seven other countries in competing for Olympic gold. D’Alie will get a chance to compete against the United States of America at least once during the games — a challenge that excites the dual citizen.
“I think it would just be really cool,” D’Alie said. “A really great memory to have that in the storybook of my life.”
A woman of many talents, D’Alie created the FIBA 3×3 anthem song. As a leader on and off the court, she spoke and performed at the Racine County Fairgrounds Fireworks Fest June 25, which was also a send-off event for D’Alie.
Using her parents’ property as grounds for some of her Olympic training, D’Alie conditions by running laps around their property, swimming in the body of water in front of their house and practicing her shot with the help of her many nephews and nieces.
“They’ll pass me the ball, they’ll play me on defense,” D’Alie said. “There’s no other better Olympic prep ground.”
After making a month-long stop at home to train and see her family, who will be unable to make the trip overseas to Tokyo, D’Alie returned to Italy for training July 1. The two week training camp ends July 16, when the team will fly to Tokyo. The Olympic games begin July 23.