Karen Dalton was born on January 2nd 1961 in Sydney, NSW.

As a junior she was a strong swimmer winning State Championships in breaststroke and dominating local pool events up to the Under 14 level. Karen and her sister Janelle played together in a local netball team and after a few years Karen’s father Tom entered their side in the Manly Under 16 basketball competition. Karen represented the Manly Basketball Association as a junior. She was chosen to represent NSW in 1976 as a member of the Metropolitan Under 16 Team at the Australian Championships. In 1977 she represented NSW Metro Under 18’s and the next year NSW (combined Country/Metro) Under 18’s at the Australian Championships.

6 feet 0 inch (182cm) Forward/Centre

1984, 1988 Olympic Games

She represented NSW at the Australian Women’s Championships in 1979 and then for the next four years (1979-1983) until the interstate competition was abandoned with the advent of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). In 1979 she moved to the Sutherland Association. She played for Sutherland in the inaugural year of the WNBL in 1981. Sutherland withdrew from the WNBL and in 1983 Karen moved to the Bankstown Association in order to play in the WNBL.

She played total of 375 games in the WNBL and was named twice as the WNBL Defensive Player of the Year. She finished her WNBL career in second place all-time in defensive rebounding at 9.3 rebounds per game, 4th in total points scored (4,161) and second in career fouls (1,025).  A long-time member of the Bankstown Club and the Sydney Flames Karen established herself as one of the best WNBL players of her era.

Karen’s international career with the Australian Women’s Team started when she played on a tour to China in 1981. In1982 she played for the Australian Team in a tournament in Chinese Taipei. Her club and international form resulted in her selection for the 1983 Women’s World Basketball Championships which were held in Sao Paulo Brazil. The Australian Team finished in 11th place. It was for Karen the start of a long career representing Australia.

The same year (1983) Karen played for the Australian Women’s Team when it won the Commonwealth Championships which were held in New Zealand.

She was selected on the Australian Team that played in the 1984 Olympic Qualification tournament in Cuba. The Australian Team played very well in the Qualification Tournament and was very unlucky not to qualify for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

After arriving back in Australia, Karen and her team-mates received some wonderful news. By virtue of some Soviet Bloc nations boycotting the LA Games Australia was included in the 1984 LA Olympic Women’s Basketball Tournament. Karen and the team were to be the first Australian Women’s Basketball Team to play in an Olympic Games.

There were only six teams in the LA tournament and the competition was fierce. Karen constantly found herself playing against opponents much bigger than her and her team-mates. However the Australians gave a good account of themselves and in their last game of the tournament defeated the heavily favoured Yugoslavia to finish the Olympic Tournament in 5th place. 

The 1984 LA Olympics were also special for Karen as her brothers Mark and Brad were members of the Australian Men’s Basketball Team at the same Olympics. This was the first time that brothers and a sister had represented Australia at the Olympics in the one sport.

In 1985 Karen played for the Australian Team when it won the Gold Medal in the inaugural Australia Games. She then played on the Australian Team when it defeated New Zealand in the Oceania Championships later in the year. The same year saw Karen and the Australian Team tour to Europe for twelve games.

In preparation for the 1986 World Championships the Australian Team, with Karen as a member, played in the Ivan Galabov tournament in Bulgaria before moving onto the Soviet Union for the World Championships. The Australian Team finished the World Championships in 9th place.

 

Karen Dalton battles for a rebound (Basketball Australia)

Karen Dalton (13) battling against China (Basketball Australia)

By now Karen was very much a mainstay of the Australian Team. Her experience, toughness, rebounding and competitive nature were a staple part of the team ethic.

In 1987 Karen toured with the Australian Team to Europe for eleven international games and then to the USA and Canada for seventeen games.

Karen played on the Australian Team that played one game against Japan and five against Canada in Australia in 1988 before playing in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament. She was selected on the Australian Team for the very important 1988 Olympic Qualification Tournament in Malaysia. Twenty four teams had entered the tournament and the top six teams would qualify for the Olympics in Seoul. The Australian Team won the first round of games with five out of five wins. In the next round it won two games and qualified for the Seoul Olympic Games.

After a slow start to the Olympic Tournament when the Australians were thrashed by Korea the team bounced back for a historic win over the Soviet Union. It was the first loss for the Soviet Women’s Basketball Team in Olympic competition. The Australians reached the Semi-Finals where they played Yugoslavia. They had a dramatic one point loss to Yugoslavia when a win would have put them into the Gold Medal Game. The Australian Team lost to the Soviet Union in the playoff for the Bronze Medal.  However the team had taken the Australian women’s basketball to a memorable and ground breaking 4th place at the Olympic Games. As a starting five player on the team Karen had played a major role in their performance and the team as a whole had made huge inroads into world basketball.

In 1989 Karen was a member of the Australian Team that won the Oceania Championships, played Japan in five games, and completed an eleven game tour of the USA.

In 1990 Karen played for the Australia Team in the Seoul Goodwill Tournament and then finished in 6th place at the 1990 World Championships which were held in Malaysia.

She was a member of the Australian Team that played in the 1990 Goodwill Games. In 1991 she played for Australia in the seven match series in Australia against the USSR, China, and Korea and toured with the team to the USA for twelve games. 

In 1992 Karen was a member of the Australian Team that played a series against China and in a game in Italy prior to playing in the 1992 Olympic Qualification Tournament held in Spain. The Australian Team played very well in the Qualification Tournament only to lose their last two games to miss out on qualifying for the Olympics in Barcelona. It was a bitter disappointment for Karen and the team.

FIBA the international governing body for basketball subsequently decided that the Women’s Oceania Championships would become a qualification tournament for World and Olympic Championships.

Karen was a member of the Australian Team that won the 1993 Oceania Championships (now called the Oceania World Qualification Tournament) to qualify for the 1994 World Championships. In 1993 Karen played for Australia in games against the Ukraine, Athletes in Action and China. In 1994 Karen and the Australian Team (now called the Opals) played against China, Russia and Bulgaria before playing in the 1994 Pre-World Championship Tournament OZ94 against Brazil, USA, France and Canada.

Karen’s international career was moving towards its end. She was selected to play for the Opals in the 1994 World Championships that were held in Australia. These Championships were a great occasion for women’s basketball in Australia and the Opals narrowly missed winning their first medal at World or Olympic Championships when they finished in 4th place. The 1994 World Championships were the final time Karen played for Australia as she retired from international basketball.

Her 1984 Olympic team-mate Kathy Foster says of Karen,My room buddy, my daughter Rebecca’s godmother, fellow 500 card champion, co- president of the hopeless foul shooters club, legend of the game, and a great defender, but unlike me didn’t shoot the ball enough!”

Karen was a member of the Sydney Flames teams that won the 1993 and 1997 WNBL Championships.

During the 2000/01 WNBL season Karen took over as Coach of the Sydney Flames and the team went on to win the WNBL Championships that season.

Karen has been Assistant Coach to the Opals at World Championships (2002) and Olympic Games (2004). She has acted in this position in over 50 games for Australia. Karen has also been an Assistant Coach of Australian Junior Women’s teams at a World Championship (2003) and at a Women’s World Under 19 Championship (2011).

In her international basketball career Karen played over 250 games for Australia, played in two Olympic Games and four World Championships, was an Assistant Coach for the Opals in 53 games, and an Assistant Coach for 56 games for Australia at the Junior level.

Karen Dalton has one of the most enduring careers as an international player and then coach for Australia women’s basketball. She continues to “give back to the game” in her continuing capacity as a coach in the WNBL and in junior coaching in NSW.

She was the WNBL Coach of the Year in 2001/02 and is a Life Member of the WNBL. She was inducted into the NSW Hall of Champions and to the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame in 2007 and into the Basketball NSW Hall of Fame in 2011.