10 Things to Know About Beach Volleyball Star Kerri Walsh Jennings

37-year-old Team USA veteran is closing in on her fourth straight Olympic gold medal

By Maya Eliahou Aug 10, 2016 6:00 PMTags
Kerri Walsh Jennings, 2016 Rio OlympicsShaun Botterill/Getty Images

Olympic beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings has always had her eye on the prize.

Misty May-Treanor retired after the superstar duo won their third straight Olympic gold medal in 2012, but Kerri is back and looking as dominant as ever with her new partner on the court, April Ross. And if we know the first thing about Kerri, it's that she brings her A-game to everything she does.

She and Ross have already taken down China and Australia's beach volleyball teams and we can't wait until their group match against Switzerland tonight.

In the meantime, here are 10 things to know about Team USA veteran Kerri Walsh Jennings:

1. She Doesn't Miss a Beat

Kerry and Misty dominated the field in 2004, 2008 and 2012, and now she's gunning for her fourth straight gold in Rio with April—whom she famously asked to be her partner right after she and Misty beat April and Jennifer Kessy for the gold in London.

If Walsh Jennings takes home gold from Rio, she will become the fifth woman in history to win a gold medal for the same event at four consecutive Olympic games. 

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

2. She Was Pregnant at the Summer 2012 Olympics

Kerri was five weeks pregnant with her daughter, Scout Margery Jennings, when she won her third gold medal. Doctors advised that competing was safe for her and her baby, so she put her game face on...and the internet responded in utter awe. 

If that doesn't show you how hardcore this gal is, we don't know what will.

Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh-Jennings Was Pregnant During Olympics

3. If She Wins in Rio, She Will be the Oldest Beach Volleyball Gold Medalist Ever

At 37, Kerri is among the older competitors in her sport, but she's proved ageless among the field. 

"People love talking about age, and I guess it's understandable because I'm playing against mostly 20-year-olds," Kerri told The Los Angeles Times. "I don't ever want to call myself old, because then I'll start feeling old. That's illegal in my sport."


4. She Played Indoor Volleyball First

Unbeknownst to some, the rules of indoor volleyball are quite different from beach volleyball. Kerri played indoors at Stanford, and was an All-American four years in a row. She won a number of national titles in indoor volleyball and even played on the U.S. women's indoor volleyball team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. But after losing in the bronze-medal match, Kerri directed her energy toward beach volleyball. 

Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

5. She's a College Grad

A lot of athletes leave academia after only a year or two to turn pro, but she graduated in 2000 from Stanford University—which she attended on a volleyball scholarship—with a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies. No surprise, Stanford won more than 90 percent of its matches when she played for the Cardinal.

Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh Crushes on Leonardo DiCaprio!
Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images for FIVB

6. The Athens Games Were Her Most Dominant Olympics to Date

Kerri and Misty are widely regarded as the greatest beach volleyball team of all time. They had numerous winning streaks, including a 112 match streak from 2007-2008. During the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Misty and Kerri didn't lose a single set in all seven matches en route to the gold. 

Icon Sportswire via AP Images

7. She Likes the Beach Volleyball Bikinis

Although the International Volleyball Federation has redesigned uniforms to be more modest and show less skin, Kerri has made it clear that she's sticking with the two-piece bikini option, saying it allows for better movement and reduces chafing.

"It's something I really feel comfortable with," Kerri told reporters in 2012. "It's something I feel empowered by, not distracted with. I'm not a sex symbol; I'm an athlete. I want to be streamlined out there."

Kerri Walsh Jennings Poses Naked in Pregnant and Post-Baby Pics for ESPN's Body Issue

8. Surprise, She's Tough!

Kerri dislocated her right shoulder twice last summer, ultimately requiring shoulder surgery to be able to continue playing. That's what the U.S.A.-print athletic tape is all about. We know you've been wondering.

Barry King/WireImage

9. Her Husband Played Professional Volleyball Too

Kerri married Casey Jennings, a professional beach volleyball player from Las Vegas, in 2005. Since then, the athletic couple have welcomed three children into the world.

Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images

10. Her Nickname is Downright Adorable

The Olympic athlete has long basked in the nickname "Six Feet of Sunshine." Her husband even had her wedding ring engraved with the pet name, which she was bestowed with around the time they met.

Watch E! News at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. for the latest excitement from Rio!
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