(L-R) Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings celebrate on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women's beach volleyball gold-medal game at the Olympic Games London 2012 on Aug. 8, 2012 in London.
As sports partnerships go, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more successful than that of beach volleyball legends Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, the three-time Olympic gold medalists.
The pair took home three straight Olympic titles in 2004, 2008 and 2012. During that stretch, they won 21 straight matches at the Games. Across all competitions, at one time the duo had won 112 matches and 19 tournaments in a row.
Earlier this month marked the 10th anniversary of May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings’ final gold medal at the Olympic Games London 2012. May-Treanor recalled that the result was no certainty for the two-time defending champions.
“That Olympics, we weren’t the heavy favorites going in,” May-Treanor said. “Not very many people had us standing on the podium at the end, except for our team.”
“We had a big target on our back. Other teams (had) nothing to lose. We were out from injuries, having kids, hadn’t played together for a few years. We really didn’t have anything to lose, or even prove, really. We just enjoyed playing together and wanted to have one more run at the game that we love.”
In fact, the Americans dropped an early set to Austria — the only one they lost in their three gold-medal runs.
“We did lose a set,” said May-Treanor, “but I don’t think that put any doubt in people’s minds. It just gives you a little wake-up call. Losing the one set isn’t devastating to us, where it might devastate some of the other teams or throw a big blow at them.”
The U.S. tandem stormed back from that minor setback to win the tournament, defeating fellow Americans Jen Kessy and April Ross in the gold-medal match. Walsh Jennings went on to win a bronze medal with Ross at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 after May-Treanor retired from competition.
“It’s surprising that it’s been 10 years because in my mind … it feels like it just happened,” said May-Treanor, now a 45-year-old mother of three children. “It was a great Olympics. It was my last Olympics. It was a good one to end on. I was very happy to finish my career at that point with everything we’ve done.
“I know physically I wasn’t the same. As you get older, physically you’re not the same, but your mental side will pick up, and that’s where you have an advantage over a lot of other teams.”