Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh Jennings win gold medal in Olympic beach volleyball
LONDON -- Misty May-Treanor danced on the sand and then off it, then took a victory lap around the court before leaving with Kerri Walsh Jennings as three-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalists.
Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor extended their Olympic winning streak to 21 straight -- unbeaten in Athens, Beijing and now London -- with a 21-16, 21-16 victory over Jennifer Kessy and April Ross Wednesday night in an all-American championship game.
The match started with nearby Big Ben pealing the hour and ended with the "Star-Spangled Banner" playing in the iconic venue near the Prime Minister's Downing Street office and just down the Mall from the royal residence at Buckingham Palace.
Playing on Henry VIII's jousting tiltyard, with the current Prince Harry in the crowd, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor continued their reign as champions of the beach.
"We set the bar very high," said May-Treanor, who has said she will retire. "We extended ourselves over that bar even higher." Even Ross and Kessy, who won a silver medal in their Olympic debut, have called their fellow Americans legends.
"They're the best team of all time," Kessy said.
Dominating the sport for three Olympics, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor have won every match they've ever played at the Summer Games and lost just one of 43 sets.
No one had ever won even two beach volleyball gold medals before the Americans won their second straight in Beijing.
No woman had ever won three Olympic beach volleyball medals of any kind.
"Kudos. Hats off to them," Ross said. "That's just ridiculous."
Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor pulled away in the first set and were never threatened in the second, falling to their knees and hugging as Ross' final serve went long on match point.
May-Treanor, who was knocked out of "Dancing with the Stars" when she tore her Achilles tendon, then began doing a funky jig to rival the scantily clad cheerleaders who help bring the beach party atmosphere to the sold-out crowds in central London.
The winners then took the celebration to the stands, and high-fived just about anyone holding an American flag. They hugged their family and friends in the stands -- although not May-Treanor's husband, Matt, a Los Angeles Dodgers catcher who was watching on a computer from the team's clubhouse.
They hugged on the podium after the gold medals were draped around their neck then shared one with their fellow Californians -- first-time Olympians who helped give the United States its best women's finish since beach volleyball was added to the Olympics in 1996.
"It doesn't feel like it's real," Walsh Jennings said. "I told Misty when we were getting our medals, 'If I wake up tomorrow and we have to replay this match, I'm going to be furious.' Because it feels like I'm in a dream . . . It didn't feel like that the first two times for whatever reason. But this, it's almost too good to be true."