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April Ross: Til Next Time, Rio!

By April Ross, 2012 Olympic Beach Volleyball Silver Medalist | March 03, 2015, 5:25 p.m. (ET)

Making strides in the bronze-medal match

Ceremony before our match 

This trip to Rio was amazing. We flew home yesterday to the U.S., and I’m actually in Washington D.C. now for a few days, but I’m already dreaming about getting back to Copacabana Beach. It was so fun to be down there, with such great competition, competing as Team USA.

To recap how the event ended up for us — in pool play (one set to 21 against each Brazilian team) Jen Fopma and Summer Ross (not my sister, though I would gladly claim her) won two sets, while Kerri and I only won one — those three close losses, especially the last one, still pain me deeply! So we ended up playing Agatha and Barbara of Brazil (who we lost to in pool) for third place and a chance to get on the podium, which is an honor not to be taken lightly. For the bronze we finally got to play a full match, but again, we started a little slow and lost the first set, gaining a little momentum at the end. I felt it immediately, it was like we started clicking as a team on another level than we had been, and I had a pretty calm feeling stepping out to start the second set. Right away we pulled out to a lead and kept it for the duration to take the second set and in the third we built up even more steam and won 15-7 to take the match.

Team USA before the bronze-medal match

So we got on the podium, and I’m really happy we won the one match we got to play, but I’m not going to lie, it’s not the spot on the podium where we want to be standing. I took a lot away from each time we stepped on the court to compete, but the progress I felt in that last match was the most exciting. It makes me really impatient to get home and train the rest of pre-season with Marcio and Jon to build on that feeling with Kerri!

A part of the purpose of this trip was to get acquainted with Rio. So after the bronze-medal matches (Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb played in the men’s match before us) most of Team USA chose to take a trip up to Christ the Redeemer. There’s not one other tourist activity on my list I wanted to do more, maybe in all the world. It was an hour drive and we learned about every area we drove through as we went. It was really interesting. As we neared the top of the mountain, however, it was apparent that it was going to be really cloudy. When we actually walked to the top and stood in front of the statue you could not see anything except the base of it. Then it started raining. A few of us stuck it out through the rain though, in hopes that the whole statue would be revealed through the clouds at some point and we were definitely rewarded for that patience. Probably 15 or 20 minutes after everyone else left, Christ the Redeemer became perfectly clear and we were able to get a few great photos. But even when the fog surrounded Him there was a majestic, awe-inspiring feel that we could not get over, we just kept staring at Him. I feel like it was a unique experience I will always remember.

When we first got up to Christ the Redeemer

I’ve had a little time to reflect on the Melhores Do Mundo exhibition now, and, still, I can only come up with positive things to take away. And I’m not just saying that, I promise, it’s true.

I can’t tell you how motivating this event was for me. To see and experience the city where the next Olympics is going to be, to play in the sand and under the sun on Copacabana Beach, to meet the fans, and some of the people who will be involved in organizing the beach volleyball event for 2016 was invaluable. To compete against the host country, evaluate where we are in comparison at this point, and figure out what we need to improve upon to come back and do what we believe we can do was more impactful than I would have imagined.

I can’t wait until the next time we get to compete in Rio!! ;)

Lauren Fendrick just staring After waiting for the weather to let up for a glimpse of the whole statue

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April Ross

Beach Volleyball