At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the USA Women's Beach Volleyball team won a gold medal, boosting the visibility of the sport. And Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, the team members, increased their own popularity. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports, the two hope to recapture the gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Beach Volleyball is an intense sport. Like most summer Olympic events, it requires focus, determination, skill? and lots of sunscreen.
With 100 tournament titles and an Olympic gold medal under her belt, Misty May Treanor - the all time leader in women's beach volleyball - makes the sport look simple.
"I think people think it's a cakewalk. We just come out here on the weekends and get in our bathing suits and play," May-Treanor said. "They don't realize that it is our job, so it's nine to five whenever we're not on TV. We have a lot of training that we do and taking care of ourselves, but we train just as hard as every other athlete."
Few athletes have dominated a sport like Misty May-Treanor and teammate Kerri Walsh. They paired up after the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Since then, they have achieved more than most women in professional sports. They are three-time world champions. They have racked up 33 international gold medals.
Before their 14-game sweep at the Athens Olympics, May-Treanor and Walsh had a record 89-match winning streak. The "Queens of the Beach," as they are known, broke that record in Chicago on July 13. Now, they not only have a place in the record books. They have won a place in the hearts of fans who are following their careers.
"I think that's something that Misty and I are most proud of is that fact that we are role models now," Walsh said. "We've earned it and we love it. We love giving back and I think that we both remember being little girls and aspiring to greatness and having athletes we look up to."
Privileged or not, Walsh and May-Treanor have no time to rest on their laurels. They have a full schedule in the United States ahead of the August 8th opening of the Beijing Olympics. There, as the eyes of the world focus on them, their eyes will focus on the gold.
"We have our eye on the prize, and we'll do whatever it takes," Walsh said. "But I think it's good to stay busy because you get anxious."
Anxiousness has not slowed the duo in recent weeks. May-Treanor and Walsh won the AVP Crocs Slam Chicago Open in mid-July, giving them first-place finishes in the last 11 AVP Tour events they entered. They hope to continue their success when they hit the sand in Beijing.