London 2012

Press release

Walsh and May-Treanor seeking perfect finale


Kerri Walsh (left) and Misty May-Treanor are out to win their third Olympic gold at London 2012

A gold medal at Horse Guard’s Parade would provide the icing on the cake for a partnership that has been laden with gold since they first paired up in 2001. Gold medals from Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 meant they were the first beach volleyball pair to retain their title and they also have FIVB World Championship gold medals in their collections following victories in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

The past four years since Beijing have seen a great deal of change in both players’ lives. First they took two years off during which Walsh had two children with fellow US player Casey Jennings, while May-Treanor had to battle an Achilles injury and announced that she will retired after London 2012.

Since their return at the start of 2011 they have won four gold medals on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour and silver at the 2011 FIVB World Championships to signal that they will be as competitive as ever at London 2012.

“We’ve wanted this for two years now and we feel we have our best volleyball left in us and we just want to get better every single time we step on the court,” Walsh said.

Holding on too tightly

“I think Misty and I have been turning a corner in the last month and a half. Our last tournament was in Gstaad and we kicked into another gear and now we’re into the Olympics and this is our ultimate. We’re done after this, so we’re leaving it all out there.”

The win in Gstaad was their first World Tour gold medal of 2012 and came after they had won three silver medals earlier in the year. It was a reflection of their mixed form in the run-up to the Olympics, something that Walsh believes is firmly behind them.

“Earlier in the season we wanted it too much and we were holding on too tightly,” she said. “Then we figured out that is what was holding us back so we decided just to cherish every minute and I think that is reflected in our play.

“We understand what a special thing it is we are trying to achieve and we want to go out how I think we deserve to go out. We put our heart and souls into it every single day and we’re just going to go out and play.”

Walsh and May-Treanor’s performances on the court are one of the major reasons for changes to the way people view the sport of beach volleyball.

With 15,000 filling out the Horse Guard’s Parade venue in London three times a day, they hope that more and more people will be inspired by their, and their opponents performances to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the sport.

“It’s great to see where our sport has gone,” May-Treanor said. “I think it used to be one of those sports that people turned their heads at and walk by. Now we’ve got this venue here and all the tickets are sold out.

“That’s what you wanted to see, you wanted people to enjoy what we do and I think it has a lot to do with the hard work of the athletes out there, how we represent ourselves and our sport; it’s enticing to the fans.”

“What’s good here isn’t just that people are enjoying the atmosphere, but they are also really enjoying the sport,” Walsh added. “That is where the intensity is coming out, us athletes are feeding off it.

Traditional beach volleyball power

“Sometimes the bikinis get people there or the dancing girls and guys, but I really truly believe it is the competition is what is keeping people there.”

The USA has been one of the traditional powers of the beach volleyball circuit, though it wasn’t until Walsh and May-Treanor won gold in Athens that an American team topped the podium. At Atlanta 1996 Brazil’s Sandra Pires and Jackie Silva won gold, while four years later at Sydney 2000 Natalie Cook and Kerri-Ann Pottharst delighted their home crowd with a win in the gold medal match.

Now the USA have taken steps to develop the sport further and ensure that there will be US beach volleyball players following in the footsteps of Walsh and May-Treanor for many Olympic Games to come.

“Back home the NCAA has just incorporated women’s beach volleyball so there is another of opportunity for girls to play it,” Walsh said. “Then once colleges adopt it, it goes to high school and then it goes lower.”

“It keeps growing every year,” May-Treanor added. “It keeps growing and growing with all the players getting involved. In the United States there are young kids playing and the beaches are full all through the summer with young kids playing our sport and that is something you wouldn’t have seen years ago.

“Now on the tour there are a lot of young kids coming up through their federations and the sport is still growing worldwide.”

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