Olympic Icon Kerri Walsh Jennings Fails to Qualify for Tokyo Games
Five-time Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings will be cheering the U.S. from home after she and beach volleyball partner Brooke Sweat failed to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Walsh Jennings, 42, and Sweat, 35, lost in the final Olympics qualifying round while competing in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Wednesday, June 2. They were beat by two competitors from the Netherlands.
According to NBC Sports, Walsh Jennings spoke to reporters after the match, sharing, "It's a terrible, terrible feeling... It's been a really rough year, and to lose in a qualifier, it feels really hard right now."
"It's a really hard day for us, so I think we'll feel the pain," she added.
Kelly Claes, 25, and Sarah Sponcil, 24, took the lead in qualifiers to clinch the final two spots on the U.S. Olympic women's beach volleyball team, alongside April Ross, 38, and Alix Klineman, 31. According to NBC Sports, Claes and Sponcil will make Olympic history as the sport's youngest U.S. team.
Prior to the qualifiers in Ostrava, Walsh Jennings and Sweat were on track to compete when the Tokyo Games, which were rescheduled because of the pandemic, begin on July 23.
2021 Summer Olympics Status Check
Walsh Jennings competed for the U.S. in four Olympic Games.
She and Ross, who was previously her partner for the Rio de Janeiro games, won the silver medal in 2016. Additionally, she and Misty May-Treanor took home the gold at Athens, Beijing and London.
Though Walsh Jennings' fans will miss her on the sand, Claes and Sponcil's presence will make them the U.S. youngest pairing in the sport's Olympic history.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Olympic men's beach volleyball team have yet to be determined, though Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb have a strong lead over Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, with Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabbe not far behind.