The Olympic Beach Volleyball competition has begun! On the first day of competition, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor played their first match of pool play. In anticipation of another great Olympics, we asked Mike Nelson to share his recent experience on the sand with the pair. Mike’s report from Huntington Beach follows.
We all know that Kerri and Misty are going for their third straight gold medal in London. They are back-to-back Olympic champions and living legends in the sport of beach volleyball. During their 2004 and 2008 gold medal runs, the pair won 112 consecutive matches, never losing a set during the Beijing Games. In advance, Misty announced that London would be her last run at the Olympics.
I knew that Kerri and Misty had been training against men’s teams to prepare for London. My recent playing partner alerted me that he had set up a session with them, and I was happy to play.
It was fun to see the entourage that comes with a practice with the two most recognizable faces in the sport of beach volleyball. A couple of high school girls were there to retrieve balls and several other girls watched the practice. They also had two coaches there to work with them. Not surprisingly, a number of people watched from the boardwalk and the Huntington Beach pier.
We did several serving and setting drills before we played a couple of games. Needless to say, they were solid in all aspects of the game. Our only advantage was that we were playing on a women’s net, which of course seemed low compared to our usual experience playing on the men’s net. During the practice, the coaches mentioned certain things that they would need to do to win gold in London and that they were there to work on them with our help. As you would expect, they were both very focused.
Kerri and Misty won gold in the FIVB tournament that followed our workout with them. The tourney was in Gstaad, Switzerland during the second week of July. My partner and I jokingly took some of the credit for the win because of our recent training session. We hope they will win gold in London so that we can continue the great story.
It was a unique opportunity to meet and train with Misty and Kerri. While the volleyball was really fun, I think my partner and I have had more fun since sharing the experience with other fans, including the Wasatch Beach Volleyball community. I know we all look forward to watching Kerri and Misty during the Olympics, as well as the other 3 U.S. beach volleyball pairs. Go U.S.A.!