Hermosa Beach, Calif., January 20, 2009 - Last fall’s SWATCH FIVB World Tour stop in the United Arab Emirates produced a record-tying result for American Kerri Walsh as the two-time Olympic and three-time world champion captured the women’s Beach Volleyball gold medal with Nicole Branagh.
More important than winning her 38th gold medal to tie long-time partner Misty May-Treanor for the most women’s international titles was the fact that Walsh was playing for two as she was almost two months pregnant while competing in her final Beach Volleyball event in 2008.
“I was about eight weeks pregnant when Nicole and I were playing in Dubai,” said the 30-year-old Walsh, “so I definitely knew! I thought I was closer to seven weeks along, so that was a little bit of a surprise.”
Walsh, who was extending her personal FIVB match winning streak to 75 with six victories in the Dubai event, said her “energy felt good when playing” in the October event. “Definitely not normal, but good and Nicole's energy definitely helped. I don't think knowing really impacted my play but it definitely impacted my activities off the court; I basically slept all day and tried to stay really hydrated.”
The “biggest” concern for Walsh in Dubai was for Branagh, who was winning her second SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal in Dubai after capturing her first earlier in the season with Elaine Youngs. Branagh’s first international crown was in Barcelona at the end of May when Youngs became the oldest women’s player to win a SWATCH gold medal.
“I'm afraid I was a very boring roomie for Nicole,” said Walsh, who was early in her pregnancy when she and May-Treanor captured the Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medal nearly two months earlier in the Chinese capital. Branagh also competed in Beijing as she and Youngs placed fifth.
“Nicole was really sweet about it,” Walsh added. "I wasn't planning on telling her or anyone yet because it was still so early on, but I felt terrible keeping it from her. It was a relief when I told her because she was so cute and supportive which made playing way more relaxed and less stressful.”
As for competing in 2009, Walsh is not sure as she is “pretty antsy right now. I can't imagine taking the entire season off. This could all change once our baby comes.”
While Walsh will definitely miss the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Tour when the international season opens in April with back-to-back double gender events in Brazil (Brasilia, April 20-26) and China (Shanghai, April 28-May 3), her husband will be competing again with Matt Fuerbringer.
“Casey and Matt will be playing again, so I hope to be at some SWATCH events again this season, especially the World Championships in Norway,” said Walsh, who teamed with May-Treanor to win the last three women’s world titles in Rio de Janeiro (2003), Berlin (2005) and Gstaad, Switzerland (2007).
As for May-Treanor, Walsh has not talked with her partner “nearly enough recently. She just moved back to Florida and is still working hard on getting healthy. I'll get some good hang out time with her in a few weeks at the Super Bowl. I can't wait!
While Walsh was preparing for her travels to Dubai for the SWATCH stop in early October, May-Treanor was competing on ABC’s highly-successful “Dancing With The Stars” television program. During a practice session October 3 with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, May-Treanor ruptured her left Achilles tendon to end her dance competition for the season.
May-Treanor, who was believed to be among the favorites to win “Dancing With The Stars”, had successful surgery four days later and the injury will sideline her for the 2009 Beach Volleyball season. Even before the injury, however, she and Walsh had made public their plans to scale back on their 2009 schedule in order to start their families.
With Walsh expecting in California and May-Treanor currently resting in Florida after her surgery, the SWATCH FIVB World Tour for women will crown a new world champion in 2009.
What about 2012 and new Olympic women’s Beach Volleyball champions? “I think Misty and I are more focused on the now than what is in store for us four years in the future,” said Walsh, who is known as "Six-feet of Sunshine". As for the now, Walsh has been quoted as saying - "I'm chubby, I'm pregnant and it's awesome!"