Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross set Rio goal on TODAY (video)
Gold medal contenders Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross joined Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie on TODAY, and set a goal to speak with Lauer again on TODAY in Rio after winning gold (Guthrie won’t be in Brazil).
Should that happen, Walsh Jennings would be holding her fourth consecutive Olympic beach volleyball gold medal. It would be a first for Ross, but her second Olympic medal.
Ross teamed with Jen Kessy at the London Games and earned silver after falling to Walsh Jennings and her longtime partner, Misty May-Treanor, in the women’s final. Walsh Jennings and Ross teamed up soon thereafter, a move sparked by something Walsh Jennings whispered into Ross’ ear as they hugged following the final match in London.
“Now let’s go win gold in Rio,” Walsh Jennings said, recalling the moment on TODAY.
“And I did answer,” Ross said. “She didn’t think that I answered.”
“I think I was like, ‘What just came out of my mouth?’” Walsh Jennings said.
Walsh Jennings and Ross teaming up was certainly a possibility as the two played against each other in London, as May-Treanor and Kessy planned on taking some time away from the sport following the Games. When the partnership finally materialized in 2013, they immediately became the U.S.'s best pair on the beach.
“We never talked about it beforehand, but it was for sure in the back of my head – obviously (she’d be my) No. 1 choice,” Ross said. “But for her to bring it up right in that second was surprising… But it was awesome. I was like, Of course, let’s do it.”
Here’s the full interview:
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Walsh Jennings and Ross have found their form in 2016. They’ve competed in seven FIVB World Tour events, advancing to the semifinals each time and winning four gold medals. The duo has also competed in one AVP Tour event, which they also won.
The AVP Tour swings through New York City this weekend. The finals will be aired on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra from 4-6 p.m. ET Saturday and 4:30-6 p.m. ET Sunday.
Walsh Jennings and Ross’ biggest foe in the Olympics will be the home-crowd favorites. The Americans have been the best team this year, but two Brazilian pairs will hold higher seeds. The Rio Olympic competition begins Aug. 6 on Copacabana Beach.
“We love beating Brazil, in Brazil especially,” Walsh Jennings said. “The world is so good at beach volleyball and to play Brazil at home, it’s going to be super heightened, super crazy. But that’s exactly what we like.”