U.S. beach volleyball athletes April Ross (left) and Alix Klineman hold the American flag aloft in celebration after winning gold at the 2020 Olympic Games.
The route to finish on top was different for both players. The result? The same.
“I still can’t fathom that it worked out the way it did,” April Ross (USC, volleyball) told reporters after teammate Alix Klineman (Stanford, volleyball) placed the gold medal around her neck. “It’s kind of a fairy tale story, going out at 39 to try and get my gold medal. The fact that it actually happened feels so special and so surreal.”
The U.S. duo defeated Australia to claim their first beach volleyball gold medal, closing in two sets, 21-15, 21-16.
Ross, who has competed in three Olympics with three different partners, finished with a silver in 2012, a bronze in 2016 and is now a gold medalist. Klineman, 31, competed in her first Olympics after transitioning from indoor to beach volleyball a couple years ago.
“People realize what a risk April took taking me on as a partner,” Klineman said to the New York Times. “I had less than one year experience and wasn’t playing at that high level.”
But Ross knew all along Klineman had the potential and commitment.
“Alix did study the game more than anyone else I’ve ever known,” Ross told the New York Times. “She’d go home and watch a ton of video, and I’d be like, ‘Well, I’ve got to go home and watch video, too.’”
The dedication and strong chemistry make the duo the fourth Team USA pair to claim gold since beach volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1996.
- Women’s basketball cruised to the finals after a comfortable 79-59 win against Serbia. Leading scorers included Brittney Griner (Baylor, basketball) with 15, Chelsea Gray (Duke, basketball) with 14 and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut, basketball) with 12.
- The women’s indoor volleyball team had a clean sweep, winning in three sets (25-19, 25-15 and 25-23) over Serbia. The U.S. will play Brazil in the final.
- Paul Chelimo (North Carolina Greensboro and Shorter, track and field) claimed a bronze medal in the 5,000 meters behind world record-holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda (12:58.15) and silver-medalist Mohammed Ahmed of Canada.
- The U.S. women’s 4x100-meter relay team of Javianne Oliver (Kentucky and North Carolina, track and field), Teahna Daniels (Texas, track and field), Jenna Prandini (Oregon, track and field) and Gabrielle Thomas (Harvard, track and field) won silver, behind Jamaica.
- U.S. men’s wrestler Gable Steveson (Minnesota, wrestling) defeated Geno Petriashvili of Georgia in a close match (10-8) to claim his first gold medal in 125kg. Meanwhile, Kyle Dake (Cornell, wrestling) earned a bronze medal, defeating Italy’s Frank Chamizo Marquez 5-0 in the freestyle 74kg.
- Team USA divers Brandon Loschiavo (Purdue, diving) and Jordan Windle (Texas, diving) will compete in the 10-meter platform semifinals Saturday after placing 11th and 15th. China finished with the top two scores: Jian Yang (546.90) and Yuan Cao (529.30).
The women’s basketball team will face Japan in the final on Sunday at 10:30 p.m. EDT. The U.S. indoor women's volleyball team faces Brazil in the gold medal match on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. EDT.
Kyle Snyder (Ohio State, wrestling) will take on Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia on Saturday in the freestyle 97kg gold event. Sarah Hildebrandt (King, wrestling) will also compete in the freestyle 50kg bronze medal match.
Quote of the day
“Diving in college has definitely helped me a lot with the pressure in diving at a high level. In college, you're diving against some Olympians, as well. And it's definitely helped me a lot throughout the years, and coming into this, I've seen a lot of friends that I competed against in college, and it's helped me kind of stay balanced with my mind and kind of keep moving forward.” – Jordan Windle (Texas, diving)