It was not long after the Tokyo Olympics, the first games of that time Kerri Walsh Jennings Missing since 1996, the beach volleyball player finally made a phone call.
Walsh Jennings, now 44, called the 41-year-old Logan Tomher teammate at Stanford in 1999 and on the US Olympic indoor volleyball team in 2000. “She’s like a sister,” Walsh Jennings said.
Walsh Jennings asked Tom, who has played at home in four Olympics and at club level at least in 2019, with the beach in 2006-07 , if he wants to be his new partner.
“I was like, ‘Kerri, you’re a bat—stupid,'” Walsh Jennings said Tuesday.
It took a while – Walsh Jennings called the last year “historical” – but Tom agreed to a six-week trial period that took place at the end of last year (video here). Their first official practice as a team was last week, Walsh Jennings said. They hope to play together in their first international competition in March, although trying to get into an event is difficult due to the lack of common points.
“For my last tournament, I wanted to feel good and feel special,” Walsh Jennings said. “Logan brings it.
“He’s been a person I’ve loved since I met him at Stanford, and one of my favorite colleagues ever. He is truly a champion. So, the thought of us being together just makes us all smile, that’s why we’re doing it now.
Walsh Jennings is the most decorated beach volleyball player in history with Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012 along with Misty May-Treanor and bronze in 2016 with April Ross.
But she’s not bragging about 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, isn’t it?” said Walsh Jennings, who last competed in June 2021. “Obviously it’s out there. That’s the ultimate goal, but we’re really taking this one step at a time. “
Emails seeking comment to Tom’s email address used to arrange the 2016 interview were not returned.
The coverage of the Paris Games is based on international results from now until June 2024. For any American who wants to get in, it will require clearing one of the best youth teams in the world.
Little Cheng SY Sarah Hughes They have won all four matches they have played since they met last fall, including defeating world champions Brazil in last week’s world finals. Taryn Kloth SY Kristen Nuss won five times between the domestic AVP and the international FIVB tour in 2022.
“I’m really comfortable taking long shots, because I know we’re going to put in the time,” Walsh Jennings said. “On paper it doesn’t make sense, late in the game with no points and everything. But I feel like it’s just in my heart, it’s in his heart, and we’re going to keep it simple.”
Alix Klineman, who won the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo with Ross, announced last week that she is pregnant. Klineman, 33, may return from childbirth in the 2024 Olympic race.
Ross, 40, last competed in March and withdrew before the world championships in June, where he entered the Emily’s day, with unspecified injuries. He has not yet announced if he plans to return to competition.
Walsh Jennings and his last friend, Brooke Sweat, was in good standing for the Tokyo Games when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. When the Olympics were postponed for a year, the younger Cheng SY Sarah Sponcil made a late charge and took the last position from them.
“All of 2021 has been tougher than anything in my career,” said Walsh Jennings, speaking while promoting Firefly Recovery, which is helping him come back after the longest competitive break of his career. “I lost myself. I couldn’t play anymore. Brooke and I are broke but we are trying hard.”
In their last two tournaments, Walsh Jennings and Sweat did not win the main draw. They were two of the three lowest in Walsh Jennings’ career that spanned more than 250 domestic and international appearances, according to BVBinfo.com.
“I said, ‘Is this the end? Am I literally going to ride out?’” Walsh Jennings said. “In my heart and in my body, it didn’t feel right.”
Walsh Jennings could break the record for oldest Olympic beach volleyball player since the sport’s debut at the Atlanta Games in 1996. In 2024, Tom will be older than all but players two former Olympic beaches, according to Olympedia.org.
“It just doesn’t make sense for us right now to create that pressure and that energy around qualifying,” Walsh Jennings said, adding that his six-time surgically repaired right shoulder feels “amazing.” “Let’s do it step by step.”
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