Star power: Australian Opals player Lauren Jackson. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Canberra Capitals superstar Lauren Jackson has backed herself to be fit in time for the World Cup and the WNBL season after running for the first time since major knee surgery this week.
And the Australian Opal will have a $50,000 NASA-designed piece of gym equipment to thank if she suits up in Turkey in September.
The 33-year-old cleared a significant hurdle by powering out a few kilometres on the Anti-Gravity treadmill at the Australian Institute of Sport this week, and said her recovery from her February operation is on track.
On track: Canberra Capitals star Lauren Jackson running on an Anti-Gravity treadmill at AIS as she continues her recovery from a knee surgery. Photo: Supplied
It's a big relief for the Opals who are looking to avenge missing out on a medal four years ago, while the Capitals are looking to snap a three-year finals drought.
Jackson said the treadmill, which reduces the impact levels on the body, was a major reason to why she was able to compete at the 2012 Olympics despite a chronic hamstring injury.
"I feel really confident [about playing in the World Cup],'' Jackson said.
"Basically I can get on the treadmill as much as I like, which means as soon as I get back on court it won't feel like I'm learning how to run again.
"I'm not running on court until early September but it's a huge step for me, I'm very excited.
"We've got a tour of Europe prior to the World Cup, and I'm shooting on court now. As long as I get my touch back it will make going back into games a lot easier.
"I still have a long way to go, I'm not doing anything sideways but I'm giving myself a real opportunity to get back, and get the knee right as much as possible.''
Jackson was forced to miss the Canberra's 2012-13 season because of her hamstring injury, which first flared up during Olympic preparations.
She said in retrospect she should have bypassed the WNBA playoffs with Seattle Storm after London and gone under the knife immediately.
"My hamstring hasn't given me any grief since I had it operated on,'' she said. "Looking back I probably should have gone straight away to have it fixed, and then I would have been fine.
"When I got over to America I couldn't even run properly. I couldn't really run at all – and then had to sit on the sidelines with the Caps.
"At least I know now to trust my gut and trust my instincts, that's what I've done this whole period with my knee.''
Jackson signed a three-season third party deal worth about $1 million with Canberra, but didn't play last season when the Capitals failed to meet a contract deadline imposed by her management.
She will play the next two WNBL seasons with the Capitals.
Asked if she felt the pressure of stepping up for Canberra given her absence, Jackson said: "I had every intention of coming back, playing basketball and getting back to where I was again.
"I know I've still got it, it's just getting the body right and sustaining it through the season.''
Jackson will reunite with a host of former Capitals championship teammates, including Abby Bishop and Kristen Veal, when the season tips off in October.
"With Vealy coming back, never in a million years would we have thought we'd play for the Capitals together again.
"It's awesome it's worked out this way because Abby's one of the my best friends. I think we're going to have great chemistry.
"With Vealy and myself there it will help out Graffy [Carrie Graf] be a better coach. It will help the other players.
"I don't think the Capitals have lost any respect, they've always been a team you have to look out for.''