U.S. Olympic women’s beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings said failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics was a “terrible, terrible feeling,” the Associated Press reported.
Walsh Jennings and her partner, Brooke Sweat, lost a qualifying match on Wednesday against the Netherlands in the Czech Republic.
“It’s been a really rough year, and to lose in a qualifier, it feels really hard right now,” Walsh Jennings said after the match.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
The early-round loss to the Netherlands means the U.S. pair could not overtake fellow Americans Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil on the international tour point list.
Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross and her partner, Alix Klineman, have already clinched a berth in Tokyo, and there is a quota of two teams for each country in each of the women’s and men’s fields.
Walsh Jennings, who won gold in Athens, Beijing and London with Misty May-Treanor and silver in Rio de Janeiro with Ross, also played on the U.S. indoor team at the Sydney Games in 2000.
She and Sweat had been in position to qualify for Tokyo during most of the pandemic-extended qualifying period before Claes and Sponcil won an FIVB event in Sochi, Russia, last week—their first international gold medal.
To retake the lead, Walsh Jennings and Sweat would have needed to at least get to the bronze-medal match this weekend in Ostrava and hope that Claes and Sponcil didn’t reach the semifinals.
“Not this time,” Walsh Jennings said. “It’s a really hard day for us, so I think we’ll feel the pain.”
Claes, 25, and Sponcil, 24, will be the youngest team to represent the United States in the Olympic beach volleyball tournament.
The two U.S. men’s Olympic berths are still in contention in Ostrava, with three-time Olympian Jake Gibb and his partner, Taylor Crabb, in the lead and 2008 gold medalist Phil Dalhausser holding down the second spot with his partner, Nick Lucena.
Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb need a strong showing—and some help—to pass one of the two leading teams.
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