- Who are the beach volleyball favorites in Rio? Can Kerri Walsh Jennings, now paired with April Ross, win her fourth Olympic gold?
The United States goes for its fourth straight beach volleyball gold medal on the women’s side with Kerri Walsh Jennings returning for one last hurrah at 37 years old.
Walsh Jennings’s health once put her Olympics in question as she underwent surgery last year to repair a torn right labrum and capsule, causing her to miss six months of action. Shoulder surgery is nothing new for the three-time Olympic gold medalist, as she underwent surgery on it before the London and Beijing Games and was also pregnant with her third child at the 2012 Summer Games.
She finally returned to training in January and has fared well with new Olympic partner April Ross, as they’ve won 10 of 28 international tournaments together since 2013. Ross and Walsh Jennings are 72–19 against Olympic-bound and qualified teams. Their biggest challenge will come from Brazil’s Larissa and Talita as they make their respective Olympic debut.
Ninety-six players from 24 countries will form 48 men’s and women’s teams in Brazil, but the USA vs. Brazil rivalry is surely one that will excite on Copa Cabana beach.
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Athletes to watch
Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross of USA
Walsh Jennings returns for her fifth Olympics looking to add to her three gold medals, but will attempt to win one with Ross for the first time, having won her first three gold medals with Misty May-Treanor. Ross has her own respective Olympic experience as she took silver with Jen Kessy in 2012. They are the only American pair with two Olympians. Since being paired in 2013, Walsh Jennings and Ross have gone on to win four gold medals, two silver and two bronze in Olympic qualifying. They are likely to medal but will have their hands full with the Brazilian duo.
Larissa and Talita of Brazil
The Brazilians hold a 5–1 record over Walsh Jennings and April Ross. With a little help from the home crowd, they could bring the country’s first gold medal since the sports introduction at the 1996 Olympics, when Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires took the victory and their compatriots Mônica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel took silver. Larissa and Talita have been working together since July 2014 and compiled a 13–11 record in international competition.
Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena of the USA
Dalhausser already owns an Olympic gold medal in his career from his 2008 pairing with Todd Rogers, who is now retired. He had been working with Lucena before Beijing but took time to work with Rogers. Since reuniting, their partnership has been successful as they were the world’s best team in 2013 and 2014. The pairing suffered a setback with Dalhausser’s oblique injury last May and now attempts to regain its spot at the top.
Alison and Bruno of Brazil
Alison and Bruno claimed last year’s FIVB world championship title and continue to be the favorites for gold. Alison previously won a bronze medal when he was paired with Emanuel Rego for silver at the 2012 Olympics. Alison and Bruno have been working together since 2013. After leaving behind his professional basketball career, Bruno emerged as one of the best defensive players on the FIVB world tour and earned Best Defensive Player honors in 2013 and 2014.
Pool A - Alison/Bruno, Brazil; Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri, Italy; Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst, Austria; WCOQ 1 (Canada or Venezuela)
Pool B - Brouwer/Meeuwsen, Netherlands; Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak, Poland; Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen, Germany; WCOQ 2 (Belgium or Russia)
Pool C - Dalhausser/Lucena, United States; Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai, Italy; Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen, Mexico; Choaib Belhaj/Mohamed Naceur, Tunisia
Pool D - Evandro/Pedro, Brazil; Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins, Latvia; Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk, Canada; Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez, Cuba
Pool E - Nummerdor/Varenhorst, Netherlands; Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Konstantin Semenov, Russia; Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel, Poland; Esteban Grimalt/Marco Grimalt, Chile
Pool F - Gibb/Patterson, United States; Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera, Spain; Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl, Austria; Jefferson Pereira/Cherif Younousse, Qatar
Pool A - Talita/Larissa/Franca, Brazil; Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska, Poland; Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, United States; WCOQ 2 (Austria or Russia)
Pool B - Agatha/Barbara, Brazil; Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez, Spain; Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug, Argentina; WCOQ 1 (China or Czech Republic)
Pool C - Ross/Walsh Jennings, United States; Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, Switzerland; Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, China; Mariafe Artacho/Nicole Laird, Australia
Pool D - Ludwig/Walkenhorst, Germany; Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth, Italy; Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas, Canada; Doaa Elghobashy/Nada Meawad, Egypt
Pool E - Bansley/Pavan, Canada; Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, Germany; Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr, Switzerland; Jantine van der Vlist/Sophie van Gestel, Netherlands
Pool F - Meppelink/Van Iersel, Netherlands; Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy, Australia; Karen Cope Charles/Nathalia Alfaro, Costa Rica; Norisbeth Agudo/Olaya Pazo, Venezuela
Gold medal dates
Aug. 17 — Women’s bronze medal match, 9 p.m. ET
Aug. 17 — Women’s gold medal match, 11 p.m. ET
Aug. 18 — Men’s bronze medal match, 9 p.m. ET
Aug. 18 — Men’s gold medal match, 11 p.m. ET