Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 London Olympics: A Dynasty at the Beach Like No Other

The nation’s best volleyball players, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings had a wild party on the sand Wednesday night. The game ended, and May-Treanor danced and then ran around like a little girl at the playground, celebrating and hopping in the sand. The bikini babes medaled again, cementing a legacy on the beach every summer of the Olympic year, to clearly stand alone as the greatest dynasty in Olympic history.

After dominating three straight Summer Olympics, Walsh Jennings searched for her family in the stands, making a quick trip to her parents and her husband in the stands. The moment felt real, with her mom and dad, with her husband, hugging each of them proudly to embrace her last match. Teary-eyed and overjoyed, she grabbed and squeezed her children tightly, celebrating and sharing the moment in tears with Kessy and Ross, who wrapped a flag around their backs and playfully loped across the sand to be showered with “USA!” chants.

All along, we had the feeling May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings, favorites entering the contest, would pull off the victory. It’s as if they couldn’t ever lose, and the truth to the matter is, they never lost. It was theirs, and nobody else’s game. It seemed that they stole the ball to keep it out of reach, buried it under the sand and impressed every country, including the two Americans they met in the medal game, with their supremacy and flair to absorb all the spotlight and popularity.

It’s never easy to leave behind a game, especially when both Kerri and Misty, the most recognizable athletes in beach volleyball, dominated the sport for a decade and fascinated millions again beating Americans Jennifer Kessy and April Ross to win their third consecutive Olympic title. It’s no wonder we’ve fallen in love with the game of volleyball whenever the Summer Games were in progress, fascinated with Misty and Kerri and finished taking pleasure in one of the wonderful Olympic marathons in history by two U.S. hotshots that cultivated the sport’s significance.

The night ended so fast, and just like that, the girls were gold medalists — three-time gold medalists in the same thing they’ve played so well in their flawless Olympic careers. It still amazes me, as they swatted a ball over the net for the longest, that these ladies finished unbeaten. The whole time in competition against competitors from other countries they’ve never lost a match. They were all about winning, ever since teaming up together at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, where they started to produce win after win and went a combined 21-0 and unbelievably dropped just one set overall.

The beach girls came from California to London to compete again and leave precisely a legacy — two of the finest athletes, not only because of beauty or attractiveness but because they are indeed among the top athletes in American sports. Already world champions on the beach, Misty and Kerri, as we are all too familiar with every time the Olympics come in the summer months, were emotional, truly humbled and in tears of joy.

The most admired athletes, after going out as role models for many young girls who may be ambitious to follow their shoes, played in the Summer Games together for the last time, bringing home gold for the third straight time at the Olympics, a rare accomplishment not seen too often in these games. But it’s real and a dynasty is possible, just ask the best tandem in Olympic history. Oh, and they will tell you it wasn’t easy to win three straight gold medals. The two heroines, as we know, have a special bond, an enduring friendship that will remain intact, no doubt, spending countless hours together training and preparing for the world’s toughest competition.

They are Olympian darlings, often appreciated, and totally cool among an elite class of female athletes. Friendship, and competitiveness, is what led to a deep bond, made for a good show and popularized a sport that originated in Southern California at a beach, which gave us May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings. The game that defined a couple of legacies, on a night at a fake beach in the middle of England where spectators looked on and watched history happen before their very eyes, was beautifully magnificent and the legendary beach girls defeated a duo of two emerging Americans in straight sets (21-16, 21-16).

And while Walsh Jennings, 36, said she will return for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio seeking another gold medal to add to her precious collection, her friend and longtime partner, May-Treanor announced her retirement. At age 35, May-Treanor has plans for life after these games, standing by her word to stay retired and spend time with her family and husband Matt Treanor, who is a major league baseball player with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Before she ever was an Olympian, May-Treanor earned her master’s degree in coaching and athletic administration, and desires to coach indoor volleyball for her second-career.

For two years, after the Beijing Games, the two separated and dealt with personal issues in their lives. Things changed for Kerri having to be there for her kids. She’s a mother of two and spent plenty of time with her kids, while May-Treanor fractured her Achilles tendon on “Dancing With The Stars,” when she was a contestant. But the women finally took care of priorities and met again in 2011, and began to get back into studying and finding a workable blueprint for adjustments.

The hard work, because they were willing to give it their best effort in seeking gold, benefited in their favor indeed. The three-time Olympic beach volleyball champions were spectacular and performed impressively at these games.

It was a phenomenal tandem, an awesome dynasty, and I’m going to miss the most dominant team in U.S. Olympic history.