Kessy-Ross qualify for London beach volleyball
By The Associated Press
The U.S. beach volleyball team of April Ross and Jennifer Kessy has qualified for their first Olympics, joining fellow Americans and two-time gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor in the tournament.
Ross and Kessy, who were the No. 3 American team for the Beijing Games in 2008, clinched the second of two American women's berths by finishing fifth in the Beijing Grand Slam over the weekend.
"It was always a dream," Kessy said. "I thought I'd have the chance in 2008 and just missed it, and I thought, `Maybe that was my chance.' And then this opportunity came along, and we worked hard for it, and it's definitely been a dream for too long."
Two-person beach volleyball teams qualify for the Olympics by compiling points on the international pro tour. A country can have a maximum of two men's teams and two women's teams.
May-Treanor and Walsh had locked up the other American spot for women, and defending men's gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser will get one of the U.S. men's berths. The other men's spot will go to either the team of Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb, who lost in the quarterfinals at the Beijing Games, or Nick Lucena and Matt Fuerbringer. The teams are tied in the standings.
Kessy said she dreamed of reaching the Olympics as a gymnast - long before she grew to a height of 6 feet. Ross also said making the Olympics was a dream, but not one she seriously considered.
"I always watched the Olympics. I always found it super entertaining. But I never thought I would get there," she said at the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit on Tuesday. "It was a dream, but an unattainable dream. Everybody wants to go to the Olympics."
Ross was a member of the U.S. indoor volleyball national team in 2003 then quit volleyball for a while before deciding to give the beach a try. Joining up with Kessy in 2007, the pair won their second event on the international tour, a Grand Slam event in Norway.
"It was like, `OK. Maybe this can happen,"' Ross said. "Then it was like, full-bore ahead. We're going to do this."
Kessy and Ross were ranked seventh on the world tour in 2008 and third among U.S. teams, losing the Olympic berth to Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs.
Gibb and Rosenthal finished second in Shanghai on March 6 and fourth in Beijing last weekend to move into a tie on the points list with Fuerbringer and Lucena. That would be good enough for fifth in the rankings, but only one of the teams can make it to London.
It could come down to the Rome Grand Slam on June 12-17.
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