USA's Kerri Walsh and April Ross answer fan questions
Q1: You're from Southern California which has a big beach volleyball culture, growing up in that environment, how has that influenced your decision to go professional?
April Ross: I grew up in Southern California which has a big beach volleyball following and fanbase. I didn't like it growing up though, we used it as a cross training tool for indoor volleyball and I never looked forward to those days. It was really hard, and I felt that I was really bad at it. I got all sweaty, sandy and gross, so, I didn't like it growing up. So, I dont think that really played into my decision to go pro. It was after I tried it after I graduated college, I fell in love with the sport. I just love it and that's why I play it.
Q2: You guys played in Fuzhou where the weather wasn't great. How challenging was it for you and was weather a factor and did you have to do anything else differently to prepare for playing in the rain?
April Ross: I think you have to adjust for each different type of weather. It might be a different adjustment each time and it just depends on who you're playing and how bad the rain is. For me, it's hard to jump serve in the rain. The ball gets heavier and so you have to be ready for it to fall faster and anticipate that a little bit. But, it's basically the same game so, we just go out there and play volleyball.
Q3: How are you preparing for the Olympic Games in Rio
April Ross: We're preparing for the Olympics every day, trying to be the best that we can, in practice and coming out here and playing against the best in the world - tournament in and tournament out. Surrounding ourselves with knowledgeable, great people that can help us be the best that we can be. I think, one change for me this year, is the people that I'm working with; partnering with Kerri, working with a great coach, a really good strength coach - that's all a big part of it too.
Q4: Of the places that you've played in your career, are there any places that are your favourite and why?
April Ross: I feel super lucky that we get to travel the world and play beach volleyball, it's a dream! At this point, I have to say Kerri and I really like China! We've done pretty well and hopefully that continues. We've played in some really cool places - we played right under the Eiffel Tower for a couple years in Paris France, we've played in Barcelona Spain. We have a tournament in Long Beach California, it's the second time in a row we'll have it this year. We had a 10 year drought so it's nice to have it back in the United States. I can't really think of anywhere I don’t really enjoy playing -- I just love the game and I love to travel so it's all good!
Q5: You and April are both very experienced players who just recently got together as a team. How long did it take to build your dynamic together and are there any areas of improvement?
Kerri Walsh: Well, I think in a lot of ways we hit the ground running. We had chemistry from the beginning, we had a similar mindset from the beginning, and we're both really hungry to improve and to win. So we had a lot of great things come together from the start. That being said, we have so much room to grow as a team and so much more dynamic to build upon. So it's really, really exciting, we know it's going to be a really long tough journey to Rio and the thing I'm so excited about is that we have so much enthusiasm and passion for what we do. I don’t care how big the mountain is before us, we're going to climb it and we're going to achieve our dreams together and just love it! Even the tough times.
Q6: You have 3 Olympic Gold medals, one of which is from Beijing. Are you surprised at the growth of beach volleyball as a sport in China?
Kerri Walsh: No, I'm not surprised. I saw firsthand in Beijing people's love and support for our sport, and it was beautiful. I loved playing every single match in Beijing. It was sold out, the crowd was really enthusiastic. We played the Chinese team in the finals which was so intense and really, really fun! They have amazing teams and great athletes and I love that they're so supported by their federations and by their country. It makes a lot of sense to me because it's such a fun dynamic sport. It's great for families, it's great for young people and old people. For older people, I think it's just a good fit.
Q7: In the Fuzhou match, the announcer mentioned that you're a mother of three, which got a lot of "Oohs and Aahs" from the crowd, because as a sport, beach volleyball is physically and mentally demanding. Are you surprised by their reaction?
Kerri Walsh: Yes and no. It's my normal now, it still shocks me that I have three little souls that I'm responsible for, so that part trips me out! I love that people can relate to me, or that they find inspiration or that they think I'm crazy or whatever it is to be doing what I'm doing with three kids. For me, I'm truly living my dream. I've always wanted to be a working mommy - I have a beautiful family and an amazing husband. That just makes me feel really proud.