Beach volleyball officially became an Olympic sport in 1996, and in those six Games, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor won half the gold medals — placing first in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
May-Treanor first competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and finished fifth with partner Holly McPeak. Looking for better results in future Games, May-Treanor sought out a new partner, someone she had competed against as far back as high school. Both Walsh and May-Treanor grew up playing volleyball in California, and volleyball’s tight-knit community kept the two familiar with each other’s journey through the sport.
Through three Olympic experiences, beach volleyball’s dynamic duo was practically unbeatable, and they showed no signs of slowing down until May-Treanor’s retirement.
At what Olympics did they last compete?
Walsh and May-Treanor competed in three Olympics together — Athens, Beijing and London. The last time the pair competed in the Games together was in the 2012 Olympics, and they brought home their third consecutive gold medal.
In 2016, Walsh paired up with April Ross and qualified for the Rio Games and they won a bronze medal in Brazil.
How many Olympic gold medals did they win in their career?
Both Walsh and May-Treanor have three gold medals together, but Walsh has an additional bronze medal from competing in 2016 with a different partner. In 2004, their first Olympics together, the pair won gold in women’s beach volleyball without losing a set through seven matches. They continued their unbeaten streak through Beijing before it ended in the preliminary round against in Austria in 2012.
How many world records do they hold?
As a pair, Walsh and May-Treanor are the first beach volleyball players to have won gold in three consecutive Olympic Games. Walsh is also in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most consecutive Olympic beach volleyball games won by an individual (female) with 22 between Athens in 2004 and Rio in 2016.
Individually, Walsh is the career leader internationally in both victories (135) and earnings ($2,656,635) for beach volleyball. In second place behind her is May-Treanor, with 112 victories and $2,144,383 in winnings. As a pair, their 104 victories — 56 more than the next closest team — and $3,658,015 in prize money takes the leading position as well.
May-Treanor retired after the 2012 Olympics and was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2016.
What are they doing now?
While Walsh says she may aim for another Olympic appearance in 2024, for now she’s focusing on the company she and her husband, Casey Jennings, started, p1440. The two beach volleyball players wanted to take their expertise and create a program that grows the game, and p1440 includes athlete mentoring programs, expert talks and personal coaching from the Olympic gold medalist herself. Walsh has three kids as well with Jennings.
Since retiring, May-Treanor has stayed relatively out of the spotlight. The three-time gold medalist is a mother of three and went back to school in pursuit of a master’s degree. She also picked up a couple gigs in college volleyball — including acting as the Director of Volleyball Operations at her alma mater, Long Beach College. Most recently, she joined the broadcast team on the AVP Beach Volleyball Tour.
What else did they accomplish in their respective sport?
Individually, both May-Treanor and Walsh dominated the indoor volleyball game before they went to the Games. At Stanford, Walsh won the national title in 1996 and 1997, and was named First Team All-American all four years. May-Treanor led an undefeated Long Beach State team to the 1998 National Championship, and in the same year she was named Honda-Broderick NCAA Athlete of the Year.
Their international success wasn’t limited to just the Olympics. Walsh and May-Treanor won three consecutive FIVB World Championships in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Between 2007 and 2009, the pair won 112 straight matches and 19 straight tournaments, with Walsh and May-Treanor’s streak ending with a second-place finish in a 2009 AVP event.
Where can you follow them?
Walsh can be found on Instagram at @kerrileewalsh and on Twitter at @kerrileewalsh. May-Treanor is on Instagram at @mistymayvb and on Twitter at @MistyMayTreanor.
Catch up with other Olympic legends:
Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Misty May and Kerri Walsh: Where are Olympics volleyball stars now?