U.S. women’s beach volleyball pair Alix Klineman and April Ross have taken gold at the Tokyo Olympics, handily defeating Australia within the final match. It was a “fairy tale ending,” as Klineman put it, for the duo who started playing together in 2017 shortly after Klineman switched from indoor volleyball. Ross, 39, features silver from the 2012 London Games and a bronze from 2016 at the Rio de Janeiro Games. The victory today completes her medal set.
Klineman and Ross hugged between points as they racked up straight-set wins against Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, 21-15, 21-16. Returning beach volleyball gold to the U.S. Historically, U.S. women are incredibly dominant in beach volleyball at the Olympics. Ross was previously paired with Kerri Walsh Jennings, and that they took the bronze in 2016 at the Rio de Janeiro Games. Walsh Jennings won gold in 2004, 2008, and 2012 together with her former partner Misty May-Treanor. “It means tons to uphold that tradition. It wasn’t easy,” Ross said. “So many various countries are putting tons of resources into their beach volleyball teams and therefore the level is ridiculously high.”
Ross was clearly the heir to leading U.S. women’s beach volleyball after Rio, but she needed a partner. She and Klineman met at a rustic music festival called Stagecoach in 2017 and quickly started playing together. “In the rear of my head I’m like, we should always get VIP tickets for subsequent Stagecoach,” Ross said with amusing. “I think people should realize what a risk April took taking me on as a partner because once we joined together, I had but a year of experience on the beach and that I wasn’t playing at a high level,” said Klineman, who is 6-foot-5 and was a star indoor player at Stanford University.
“I think she felt how badly I wanted this,” said Klineman. “She, I think, saw something in me that nobody else did. and I am with great care grateful that she was quite watching my potential and took that back me.” Ross put what Klineman did into perspective: “I think it is also a testament to Alix’s work ethic. i do not think you ought to check out her story and say, ‘Oh, it is easy to transition to a beach volleyball,’ because it’s really hard and tons of individuals haven’t been ready to roll in the hay .” due to the pandemic, during medals ceremonies, athletes are presented with medals on a tray then put them around their own neck. Ross and Klineman put the medals around each other’s necks.
“I know that was a product of COVID, but it actually feels really special when you’re up there,” said Ross. “We get to award the medals to every other!” The Australian team did an equivalent. “It’s one among my favorite moments, for sure,” Artacho del Solar said. “It’s actually a really nice touch, despite the rationale we’re doing it.”