A fourth gold the Rio lure for Walsh Jennings

Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:37pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The omens look bright for Kerri Walsh Jennings as the American beach volleyball champion targets a rare fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro after producing barnstorming form on the 2016 AVP Tour.

Walsh Jennings and her new partner, April Ross, have gone unbeaten on the Association of Volleyball Professionals circuit this year, extending their impressive run together to 56 consecutive matches and 11 successive titles.

This can only augur well for the 37-year-old Californian, who is nicknamed 'Six Feet of Sunshine', as she aims to join an exclusive and very small Olympic club after undergoing her fifth shoulder surgery in September.

Should Walsh Jennings mine gold in Rio, she would emulate long jumper Carl Lewis and discus thrower Al Oerter, both fellow Americans, as the only athletes who have won four consecutive Olympic golds in the same individual event.

"I don't know if I can even put what it would mean into words," Walsh Jennings told Reuters about the prospect of landing a fourth gold medal.

"To prove to myself I had it in me, to represent the U.S. and to share that experience with my family would mean the world.

"I was pregnant with my third, Scout, during the last Olympics in London and it'd be incredible to have her see what she was a part of and the boys are older now so it'd be special for them too."

Walsh Jennings, who has two sons and a three-year-old daughter, won gold at the 2004 Athens Games, the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Olympics alongside Misty May-Treanor.   Continued...

Gold medallists Misty May-Treanor of the U.S. and team mate Kerri Walsh Jennings (R) celebrate with their medals at the women's beach volleyball victory ceremony at the Horse Guards Parade during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 8, 2012.       REUTERS/Marcelo Del Pozo