Not long after the Tokyo Olympics, these were the first games Kerry Walsh Jennings Missed since 1996, that beach volleyball legend finally called.
Walsh Jennings, now 44, dialed the now-41-year-old Logan Tomat Stanford in 1999 and her teammate on the US Olympic indoor volleyball team in 2000. “She’s like a sister,” Walsh Jennings said.
Walsh Jennings asked Tom, who played indoors at four Olympics and at least 2019 at club level, along with a beach stint in 2006-07, if she wanted to be his new partner.
“He was like, ‘Kerry, you’re bat-crazy,'” Walsh Jennings recalled Tuesday.
It took a while — what Walsh Jennings called “a saga” over the last year — but Tom agreed to a six-week trial period that took place late last year (video here). Walsh Jennings said their first official practice as a team was last week. They hope to play their first international tournament together in March, although trying to get into an event is difficult due to their collective lack of ranking points.
“For my last competition, I want it to feel really good and feel really special,” Walsh Jennings said. “Logan brings it.
“She’s someone I’ve loved since I met her at Stanford, and she’s one of my favorite teammates ever. She’s such a champion. So the thought of us being together makes us both smile. Yes, that’s why we’re doing it.”
Walsh Jennings is the most decorated beach volleyball player in history with Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Blurry May-Trainer And the bronze medal in 2016 April Ross.
But she is not trying to qualify as one of two U.S. women’s beach teams for the 2024 Paris Games. At least not yet.
“Paris is in the background, right?” said Walsh Jennings, who last played a tournament in June 2021. “It’s clearly out there. That will be the ultimate goal, but we’re really taking this one step at a time. “
Emails seeking comment to Tom’s address, which was used to schedule the 2016 interview, have not been returned.
Qualifying for the Paris Games is based on international results from now until June 2024. For any American who wants to join, it will require leaving at least one of the world’s top youth teams.
Kelly Cheng And Sarah Hughes They have won all four tournaments they have played since forming the team last fall, including defeating the reigning world champions from Brazil in last week’s World Tour Finals. Tarin Cloth And Kristen Nuss Won five times between domestic AVP and international FIVB Tour in 2022.
“I’m very comfortable being a long shot, because I know we’re going to find time,” Walsh Jennings said. “It doesn’t make sense to do it on paper, this late in the game with no points and everything. But I think it’s in my heart, it’s in his heart, and we’re going to give it a whirl. “
Alix Kleinman, who won Tokyo Olympic gold with Ross, announced last week that she is pregnant. Kleinman, 33, could return from childbirth for an Olympic run as late as 2024.
Ross, 40, last competed in March, then withdrew before June’s world championships, where he was included. Emily Day, with an unspecified injury. She has not announced if or when she plans to return to competition.
Walsh Jennings and his last partner, Brook sweat, were in a position to qualify for the Tokyo Games when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. After the Olympics were postponed for a year, the younger Cheng And Sarah Sponsill Charged late and took that last place away from them.
“The whole 2021 was harder than anything in my career,” said Walsh Jennings, promoting Firefly Recovery, which is helping him come back after the longest competition break of his career. “I lost myself. I didn’t know how to play anymore. Brooke and I were disconnected but trying hard.
In their last two tournaments, Walsh Jennings and Sweet failed to win a single main draw match. According to BVBinfo.com, those were two of the three fewest finishes in Walsh Jennings’ career spanning more than 250 domestic and international events.
“I’m like, ‘Is this the end? Am I really going to limp out?'” Walsh Jennings said. “In my heart and in my body, it didn’t feel good.”
Walsh Jennings may break the record for oldest Olympic beach volleyball player since the sport’s debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. According to Olympia.org, in 2024, Tom will become the oldest other than the last two Olympic beach athletes.
“Building this pressure and this energy around qualification just doesn’t make sense for us right now,” Walsh Jennings said, adding that his six-time surgically repaired right shoulder feels “great.” has been “Let’s take it one step at a time.”
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