There are many familiar names, but the Olympic beach volleyball field has a whole new look.
The organizers of the London Olympics have built a 25-foot statue of two-time defending champion Kerri Walsh Jennings in St. James’s Park. She is just a short walk from the venue, which will be her third victory. Beach volleyball Title.
Four years later, in Rio de Janeiro, Walsh Jennings was back on the podium and won his fourth Olympic medal. This is a bronze medal.
For 20 years, no one has approached the sport as much as the five Olympic athletes known as the “six-foot sunshine.” However, when the Summer Olympics begin in Tokyo this month, 42 year old California is not there..
“This is the first Olympics she has never been to in the 21st century and I’m crazy about thinking,” said the last two to take the last US spot in Tokyo with partner Kelly Cress. Said Sarah Sponsil, who won the qualifying event. From Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat.
“She’s a great player and a symbol of sport,” said Sponsil, who put a photo of Walsh Jennings and his three Olympic title partners Misty May-Treaner on the wall as he grew up. .. “To be able to knock her out — it’s not just a random opponent. It’s an honor to get rid of her. She’ll be down as one of the greatest ever.”
Southern California and UCLA, Claes, and Sponcil rivals each won consecutive NCAA beach volleyball titles before joining the 2018 international tour. He didn’t win in the first 20 events and was up to 3rd in the point race. Two American women’s spots at the Olympics.
After that, I won the Sochi Open, the penultimate tournament in the qualifying period. Walsh Jennings and Sweat needed a strong finish at the finale to regain the lead, but they were eliminated in the early round matches.
Cress and Sponsil won again.
“The end of the Olympic spot race is crazy. I don’t think anyone saw it coming,” he said. April Ross, a partner of Walsh Jennings in Rio, will return to the Olympics with Arthur Kleinman. “For a long time I thought Kelly was there.”
Cress, 25 and Sponsil, 24, are the youngest US beach volleyball teams to compete in the Olympic Games and are the first NCAA beach volleyball products to reach the Summer Olympics. (Tina Graudina, who will face Latvia in Tokyo, also played at USC.)
Cress resisted the title of “Giant Killer” given to her and Sponsil. “Passing the baton, or you want to say that, but feel more correct.”
“It’s Kelly. She’s a great athlete,” Claes said. “I had a lot of respect for her and Misty. They did so much for the sport and really paved the way and inspired so many people, including me.
“Kelly is amazing,” she said. “But I think it’s really cool to shed new young blood at the Olympics.”
Older generations are not yet ready to give up.
Ross, who won a silver medal in London and a bronze medal in Rio, is 39 years old and is heading for his third Olympics. The US men’s team includes the oldest volleyball player in Olympic history, 45-year-old Jake Give (beach or indoors), and Beijing gold medalist Phildalhauser, 41.
“I didn’t expect this to be so competitive at the end of my career,” Ross said. “At the same time, I’m really excited about our sport and what they are doing for our sport.”
Five years after the beach volleyball venue bounces back to samba beats at its spiritual hometown of Copacabana Beach, the event moves to Shiokaze Park in Tokyo Bay.
No Olympic sport depends more on the atmosphere of the party than beach volleyball. Without a full house and a disc jockey, the question is what sports would lose.
“It’s the Olympics, and you want the atmosphere of the party,” Ross said. “Japanese fans are great, so if it’s our fans, I think it’s a great atmosphere.”
Beach volleyball has traditionally been one of the major attractions of the Summer Olympics. In London, Microsoft’s billionaire Bill Gates always checked it out. In Rio, the US men’s basketball team came to see Walsh Jennings and Ross play.
Ross said fans often come to parties but fall in love with the sport itself.
“What I really want people to see and focus on is how tough the sport is and how much the athlete is exercising,” she said. Distraction. “
For the first time at the Olympics, Claes and Sponcil said they didn’t know much more.
“I think the only bright side of all this is the idea that ignorance is bliss,” says Claes. “It’s not the second time I’ve been able to experience the opening ceremony, the Olympic Village, and the family being there.
“Yes, it’s a shame that they aren’t all there, but I’m not distracted by everything that comes with the Olympics, and I think we’re more prepared for the next issue. I will. “
There are many familiar names, but this field has a whole new look.
Spain’s Elsa Bakeriso and Liliana Fernandez played 16 rounds in 2016 and are the only pair to play in Tokyo, with only two women’s teams returning from Rio. On the men’s side, six partnerships survived, including silver medalist Daniele Lupo and Italy’s Paolo Nicolai, and bronze medal-winning Dutch Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meusen.
Instead, retirement, injury, childbirth, and mere strategies have led to the modification of common partnerships-although usually not so extensive. Germany’s Laura Ludwig, who won the gold medal in Brazil by pairing with Kira Walkenhorst, is paired with Margarete Kozucci. Silver medalist Agatha Bednarchuk is with Duda Santos Lisboa instead of Barbara Seixius. Bronze winner Ross is back with Kleinman on behalf of Walsh Jennings.
Both men’s champions Bruno Schmidt and Alison Cerutti are back, but they have new partners. Bruno is teaming up with Evandro Oliveira, and Alison tries to repeat with Alvaro Filho.