It wasn’t a medal moment, but it sure was suspenseful.
Team USA’s Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross brought a formidable Olympic record into their final group match in women’s beach volleyball, with an automatic Round of 16 berth on the line: The former sported an undefeated record over four consecutive Olympics (2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016), with only a single dropped set over that span. Ross, meanwhile, had only one Olympic loss, that coming when she and her prior partner took the silver behind Walsh Jennings and former/now retired partner Misty May-Treanor in London.
After Walsh Jennings and Ross decimated their opponents 21-13 in the first set, Swiss underdogs Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre fought back to tie things up with a 22-24 score in the second set.
An upset seemed to be brewing when the Swiss went up 6-4 in the third, but just as my husband rolled into the room and asked how I could possibly be getting so excited about beach volleyball, Walsh Jennings and Ross drilled down like oil speculators in North Dakota and found new reserves of energy, blocking, spiking and willing their way to a 15-12 final set victory. (Who knew all three sets didn’t go to 21?!) It is not an exaggeration to say we whooped, clapped and came thisclose to a high five from the comfort of our couch. Consider us converts to the church of beach volleyball!
Here are some other buzzed-about moments from Day 5 of the Rio games this Wednesday:
* Defending Olympic gold-medalist Nathan Adrian’s delightfully unperturbed response to NBC interviewer Michelle Tafoya’s “what happened?” — um, he wasn’t the fastest dude in the pool today — after picking up a bronze in the men’s 100-meter freestyle.
* The incomparable Michael Phelps comfortably holding off a surging Ryan Lochte as the Americans ran 1-2 in their semifinal heat in the men’s 200-meter Individual Medley. The long-time competitors’ post-swim interview signalled their battle for the gold on Thursday could be twice as ferocious. JEAH!
* 43-year-old Kristin Armstrong winning her third consecutive gold in the Olympic cycling individual time trial, then collapsing into a heap and answering her adorable son’s query about why she was crying. (Kleenex and Puffs should start the bidding now on an endorsement deal, yes?)
* And the heavily favored U.S. women’s 4x 200m relay romping to victory on anchor Katie Ledecky’s powerful shoulders. Ladies, you win: I’m going to the gym in the morning, I swear!
What was your favorite moment of this day of Olympic competition? What are you most looking forward to in the games? Let us know in the comments!