Blicavs name sits among top Australian sporting families

If you were to compile and compare a list of great Australian sporting families, the Blicavs name would surely be among the finalists.

Parents Karen and Andris represented Australia in basketball, while children Sara, Mark and Kris have forged their own successful athletic careers. But even by their own lofty standards, the next two weeks are going to create a conundrum for the proud parents.

Sara is set to suit up for the Opals at the FIBA Women's World cup, Mark will lineup for Geelong in the AFL Grand Final, while Kris will be jetting across the world to Cairo for the 3x3 streetball world finals.

While travelling to Egypt was an unlikely proposition, the decision between Sydney and Melbourne has not come easy for their proud mum.

"It's amazing actually. It's hard to be everywhere, Sara wants me to come up for the whole tournament, but I don't want to miss the Grand Final because it's a rare thing and obviously I can't go to Egypt, but I'd love to be there as well. I feel really proud of all of them," she told ESPN.

"I've also got a dog here who is a bit of a sook. If they lost in the tournament in Sydney, I wouldn't hang around, so I've booked a one-way fare at the moment. I'm looking at the prices and they've just gone up, but you just suck it up. It's tough to plan."

While Sara would love her parents to be present for the entirety of the World Cup, she concedes missing the AFL decider will be a challenge, though the schedule has afforded the Opals an off day for the game.

"It's kind of wild. I was selfishly a little bit upset, I was hoping my brothers could come and watch, but also if Mark made the Grand Final I would love to be there," Sara said.

"It's a hard issue for the parents, that's for sure. I'll let them go the Grand Final because hopefully we will have plenty of games, so they have an opportunity. It's cool, I'm super proud of them, it's nice we can share these experiences in a way together. You go through some of the biggest sporting experiences of our life at the same time, we can feed off each other and check in with each other."

Given the athletic pedigree in the family, it's hardly a surprise the Blicavs children have been successful in their own pursuits, though Karen and Andris never pushed them toward any particular sport, instead letting them forge their own path.

"It's the way it's always been but we didn't have any expectations," Karen said. "You always thought they would do well with whatever they put their mind to but when they were younger, we let them do a lot of different things.

"Basketball, cricket... I think Mark only played one year of football and then went to athletics, so all three have tried different things and chosen their own path.

"It's not really a surprise what they've achieved. All three of them are really close - Kris and Sara are born on the same day, and they seem to have that twin connection even though they are four years apart. They're all really supportive of each other but they're all very competitive, it doesn't matter what we're doing.

"Even growing up, we would have competitions in the back yard, and it would be full on. Mark would be the one who would go off crying because he didn't get his own way but apart from that, we had a lot of fun and would always be there for them with whatever they have done."

While Sara and Kris have followed in their parents' footsteps with basketball, Mark drifted to athletics and then Aussie Rules, which begs the very important question as to whether he could keep up with his little sister on the hardwood.

"All three of us played basketball growing up so he's still good. He's 6'6" and he's athletic so he'd be fine," Sara admitted.

"During the COVID years when I had an exemption to train for the Australian stuff, he was allowed to workout with me. I took Mark for a couple of hour-and-a-half training sessions, had him going through ball handling and different finishes at the rim.

"He's a little but rusty when it comes to the outside shot, I'd probably get him at the three-point line but inside the key and as an absolute defender, he'll always be really good at that."

Adding to the story is a link with legendary Opal Lauren Jackson, who is set to make her remarkable return to the national team after an injury-enforced retirement seven years ago.

"The funny thing is, Sara is now playing with Lauren Jackson. Back in the day I played with Lauren Jackson's mum and Andris played with Lauren Jackson's dad so it's a full circle moment," Karen revealed.

"Lauren's just got such a great basketball brain, such a great attitude, the girls love her, she fits in so well. To have Lauren there I think it's going to be such a positive feel for the team, it's going to be a drawcard for the public and media. Sara thinks she's terrific, so I think it's just a fantastic thing that she's playing and a great achievement on her part, she should be so proud."

Karen, who represented Australia at the 1983 World Cup is no stranger to the pressure of a major international tournament, but how does competing compare to watching her children play for the ultimate?

"I think it's much easier to play than it is to watch," she said. "It's out of your hands and you live every little thing that they do.

"That last Geelong game against Collingwood, we were lucky the siren went when it did. That was a relief, I do get nervous, I just want them all to do well.

"Whatever happens I'll be proud. It would be lovely (if they win) but it's not the be all and end all... to me anyway," she added with a laugh.