Gold medalists reunite for beach volleyball tour
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor will return next weekend to the domestic beach volleyball tour, where she will be reunited with longtime partner Kerri Walsh.
“It’s the last tournament, and I know the draw was the gold medalists, so Kerri asked me,” May-Treanor said Wednesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I got a call from her asking to play, I was excited.”
May-Treanor, who injured her Achilles’ tendon while practicing for “Dancing with the Stars” last October, will join Walsh for the Sept. 25-27 AVP World Challenge in Glendale, Ariz. It will be their first competition together in 2009, though they did team up to play Shaquille O’Neal for an episode of the television show “Shaq Vs.”
“I’m still not 100 percent. But I get out there and I do my thing,” May-Treanor said. “I’m looking at this as seeing my friends – because I haven’t been able to compete internationally – playing against them, playing for the U.S., playing with Kerri again.”
Walsh, who teamed with May-Treanor to win at the Athens Olympics and again in Beijing, sat out most of the AVP season after having a baby in the spring. She returned last month and has been playing mostly with Rachel Wacholder, who was also without a partner after taking time off to have a baby.
“I’m so excited to play with Misty again,” Walsh said. “I know she’s been training on her own and I think we’re going to find our rhythm really quickly. I couldn’t ask for a better partner for this event, and her decision to play with me means so much. We have such a special relationship and I think that will really show on the court.”
May-Treanor last played in a professional event last September in the AVP’s Manhattan Beach Open, which she and Walsh won for an unprecedented fourth consecutive time. After taking time off to start a family – her husband, Matt Treanor, is a major league baseball player – she entered “Dancing with the Stars” but ruptured her left Achilles’ tendon and withdrew.
“It’s been nice having a year off,” she said. “I haven’t had a summer off since I was 12. Just being able to have free weekends, take a step back and breathe is nice.”
May-Treanor said she could not commit to returning full-time next year. She said she has considered going for a masters degree in coaching or athletic administration, and she still plans to have children.
“We’ll see,” she said. “Who knows what the future holds.”
The inaugural $200,000 World Challenge is a Ryder Cup-style round-robin tournament between the top teams from the United States and Brazil, the world’s top two beach volleyball powers. May-Treanor and Walsh are the most successful women in beach volleyball history, and their presence bolsters the Americans’ chances of claiming the bragging rights to the beach.
“There is a rivalry between the Brazilians and the U.S.,” May-Treanor said. “That’s who we’re always playing in the (international event) finals. So, yes, there is a rivalry. I want to give it my best but I’m not in the shape I was in before the Olympics.”
May-Treanor assessed her physical condition at about 70 percent.
“I can’t do a single calf raise with one leg,” she said.
The competition also will feature Olympic men’s champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser and American Olympians Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb. Beijing silver medalists Fabio and Marcio will be among the Brazilian teams, along with ’04 Olympic gold medalists and ’08 bronze medalists Ricardo and Emanuel.
The U.S. women include 2008 Olympians Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs and ’09 World Champions Jennifer Kessy and April Ross. Included on the Brazilian women’s team is 2000 and ’04 Olympic silver medalist Shelda Bede.
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