As a three-time Olympic gold medal winner, Kerri Walsh Jennings is one of Team USA's most seasoned athletes. But this year, in Rio, she's competing for the gold medal in beach volleyball with a new partner in April Ross.
Walsh Jennings' longtime partner Misty May-Treanor retired after the duo won their third straight Olympic gold in 2012. "I miss her every single day," Walsh Jennings told NBC. "But I love what I do with all my heart and I plan on getting better for the rest of my life."
Viewers who watched Wednesday night saw a side of Walsh Jennings rarely seen: her back, ever so briefly against the wall. The Americans were pressed by a very strong Swiss team, forcing a decisive third set. It was only the second set dropped by Walsh Jennings in her Olympic career.
After the match, Walsh Jennings said on Instagram she and Ross "aren't going anywhere. When the going gets tough, we get closer."
The fact that her biggest scare in an undefeated Olympic run is her favorite match so far reveals a lot about Walsh Jennings. She has "joy" written on her hand when she plays, and she says she does that because "I want to play like a kid out there. I want to have fun. I want to be playful … because when I do that, I play better."
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And no, she's not the least bit stressed about her quest for that fourth gold medal. "I know we have five more matches to win," she said. "I don't care who the world throws at us, we're just going to be ready."