After impressing as a youngster in Australia, Cameron Bairstow took up a scholarship at the University of New Mexico in 2010 and by 2013 was one of the side’s leading players. He won silver at the 2013 Summer Universiade before getting his chance in the senior Australian team as the side won the 2013 Oceania Championship.
Bairstow was drafted to the Chicago Bulls as the 49th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft and went on to play 18 games in his rookie season. He returned to Australia to help the side defeat New Zealand and qualify for Rio. He averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes in the two match series.
He got his chance to make his Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games where Australia went in search of a historic first Olympic men’s basketball medal. The Australian side began the competition with wins over medal contenders France and Serbia. A close loss to the USA was backed up by strong wins over China and Venezuela to see the side finish their group in second. They eased past Lithuania in the quarter-finals before going down to Serbia 87-61 in the semi-finals. The result set up a bronze medal clash with Spain which went down to the wire. Australia again missed a medal by the barest of margins as the Spanish scored two free throws with just over 5 seconds remaining to take the final position on the Rio podium.
Bairstow played in the opening five matches in Rio but was injured in Australia’s final group match against Venezuela and didn’t feature in the rest of the tournament. He starred in Australia’s win over China scoring 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in just 19 minutes on the court.