Sydney, Australia, March 7, 2019 – Nineteen years ago, a young woman named Kerri Walsh competed for the United States’ volleyball team at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and fast-forward to 2019, she returns to the same city as a multiple world and Olympic beach volleyball champion competing at the 3-star FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour tournament.Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States at the Sydney 3-star media launch.
“It was my first introduction to your great country and you guys warmed my heart so much. By the end of the tournament people were saying ‘Walshie Walshie Walshie Oi Oi Oi’,” jested Walsh Jennings on her fond memories of playing on Australian soil.
“I just felt at home here and it was such a great introduction and experience and it left me wanting more. I haven’t been back since 2000 and to come here is like heaven on earth – beach volleyball, surf and sand.”
Walsh Jennings is playing with fellow Olympian Brooke Sweat at the Sydney 3-star. In their fourth World Tour event together, they are hungry to win and improve their chances of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“The field is so deep at this event. My partner Brooke is incredible; she was also at the Rio 2016 Olympics and both of us finished a little bit unsatisfied so we both have chips on our shoulders. We’re hungry!” Walsh Jennings said. “We’re both coming back from injury and this tournament is vital for us. We need games as new partners and we need to compete.
“We’ve been training really hard but there is nothing like competing. I have unwavering faith that our ability will get us there. We’re both workers and so we will do whatever it takes.”
“Kerri is the best ever,” Brooke responded. “To see her work ethic and not slowing down like she’s hungry for more, she makes people around her better. Just practising with her and watching her never giving up on balls inspires me. She’s just an inspirational player on and off the court. She makes playing easy and a lot of fun. It’s an honour to share the court with her and get back to the Olympics with her.”
Earning their Olympic goal requires a lot of hard work and a lot of positive mentality. The two Olympians shared some life lessons they live by that will guide them in the path to reach their goal.
“My father always told me not to make excuses because no one wants to hear them. They will just limit you. Then my mother said to do everything with a smile. My faith always tells me to always believe,” Walsh Jennings said.
“I have a lot of gratitude in my heart for everyone who’s helping the sport grow. As an athlete you can appreciate even the little things, which I actually learned from my husband Casey who really lives with his heart and is very grateful. So I would say the simple appreciation even to small things is great.”
“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of lessons over time but when it comes to volleyball, just remember that it is a sport and there is so much more to life,” Sweat added. “It’s easy to get caught up in training and wanting to win. I love winning but there is so much more to life, so I just keep that kind of perspective.”Quick links - Beach volleyball:
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour - Sydney