After five Olympic Games, three Olympic gold medals and four Olympic medals overall, beach volleyball legend Kerri Walsh Jennings confirmed she will end her Olympic career after one final shot at gold at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
And she made it very clear that the Games won’t be a retirement tour; she’ll be going as hard as she ever has in pursuit of a fourth gold, despite the minor detail of needing a new partner after she and 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh parted ways last month.
“I have no partner. I just came off two surgeries, and I know I’m going to win gold in Tokyo,” she said to The Associated Press. “… It makes this one and this journey that much more meaningful.”
The 39-year-old, 40 on Aug. 15, will go out as one of the most decorated beach volleyball athletes in Olympic history with or without another gold medal. She made her Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000 on the U.S. indoor volleyball team that finished fourth. She transitioned to the beach and began a legendary run with partner Misty May-Treanor. The duo won gold at the next three Games together while also dominating the AVP and FIVB circuits.
Walsh Jennings teamed with April Ross in Rio, where they finished with a disappointing bronze that has eaten at Walsh Jennings ever since. But win or lose in Tokyo, her long-term goal is to continue to grow the sport of beach volleyball.