May-Treanor, Walsh win beach volleyball gold

Jimmy Golen
Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States, right, defended against a spike from April Ross of the United States, left, in the gold medal match of women's beach volleyball.
David Eulitt
Misty May-Treanor of the United States returned a serve in the gold medal match of women's beach volleyball.
David Eulitt
USA's Jennifer Kessy, right, plays the ball in front of teammate April Ross in the second set of women's beach volleyball finals.
Nhat V. Meyer
USA's Misty May-Treanor, left, plays the ball in front of teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings en route to the gold medal in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States, left, sets up a spike against Jennifer Kessy, right, in the gold medal match of women's beach volleyball.
David Eulitt
Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States, left, blocked a spike from Jennifer Kessy of the United States in the gold medal match of women's beach volleyball.
David Eulitt
Kerri Jennings Walsh of the United States, left, and her teammate Misty May-Treanor shouted encouragement to each other during their third consecutive gold medal performance in women's beach volleyball.
David Eulitt
April Ross, left, of the United States, spoke with her women's beach volleyball partner, Jennifer Kessy, right, during a break in the gold medal match.
David Eulitt
April Ross, left, of the United States, blocked a spike from Kerry Walsh Jennings during the gold medal match.
David Eulitt
USA's Kerri Walsh Jennings plays the ball in the first set en route to the gold medal in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
USA's Misty May-Treanor dives for the ball en route to the gold medal in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
USA's Kerri Walsh Jennings digs the ball in the second set en route to the gold medal in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
USA's Misty May-Treanor plays the ball in the second set en route to the gold medal in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
USA's Kerri Walsh Jennings serves in the second set en route to the gold medal in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States, right, blocked a spike from Jennifer Kessy of the United States, left, in the gold medal match of women's beach volleyball. Walsh Jennings and her partner, Misty May-Treanor, won their third straight gold medal.
David Eulitt
USA's Kerri Walsh Jennings, right, and teammate Misty May-Treanor react after winning the gold medal in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States lept in the air after winning a point with her teammate Misty May-Treanor during their gold medal performance in women's beach volleyball.
David Eulitt
Misty May-Treanor of the United States, right, shouted with joy with her teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings, left, after the pair clinched the gold medal in women's beach volleyball.
David Eulitt
Misty May-Treanor of the United States, right, hugged her teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings after their match-clinching point in the women's beach volleyball gold medal game.
David Eulitt
Misty May-Treanor, right, hugged her teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings after their match-clinching point in the women's beach volleyball gold medal match.
David Eulitt
Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States was lifted into the stands in celebration after she and her women's beach volleyball partner Misty May-Treanor won their third consecutive gold medal.
David Eulitt
A young volleyball fan waves to USA's Kerri Walsh Jennings after she and teammate Misty May-Treanor won the women's beach volleyball final.
Nhat V. Meyer
USA's Kerri Walsh Jennings, right, and teammate Misty May-Treanor show each other their gold medals during their awards ceremony in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
Misty May-Treanor, left, and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States react during the national anthem in the gold medal ceremony in women's beach volleyball.
David Eulitt
Kerry Walsh, right, weeps as she sings the U.S. national anthem, while teammate Missy May-Treanor and silver medalists April Ross and Jennifer Kessy, far left, join in during the victory ceremony in women's beach volleyball.
Robert Gauthier
USA's Kerri Walsh Jennings, right, and teammate Misty May-Treanor react after receiving their gold medals in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
USA's Kerri Walsh Jennings kisses her gold medal during the awards ceremony in women's beach volleyball.
Nhat V. Meyer
Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States received congratulations after she and her women's beach volleyball partner Misty May-Treanor won their third consecutive gold medal.
David Eulitt
Beach volleyball gold medal winners Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings (left and second from left) of the United States and silver medalists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross of the United States (second from right and right) received congratulations from the crowd prior to their medal ceremony.
David Eulitt
Brazil's Juliana Silva and China's Chen Xue, left, face off at the net in women's beach volleyball.
Robert Gauthier
Brazilian teammates Juliana Silva, left, and Larissa Franca celebrate a Bronze Medal after beating China in women's beach volleyball.
Robert Gauthier

LONDON — Misty May-Treanor danced on the sand and then off it, taking a victory lap around the court before leaving Horse Guards Parade 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 on 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, circling the temporary 15,000-seat stadium built on the household cavalry's centuries-old parade grounds and high-fiving 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's insane. 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 truly feels surreal and it didn't feel like that the first two times for whatever reason. But this, it's almost too good to be true."

Earlier Wednesday, Brazil's Juliana and Larissa beat Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China in the bronze medal match.

Brazil's Emanuel and Alison were scheduled to play Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann of Germany in the men's gold medal match on Thursday night. Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia were to play Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands for the men's bronze.


By JIMMY GOLEN
Associated Press