As Kerri Walsh Jennings heads into her fifth Olympic Games, one thing is on her mind: gold.
“I know what my goals are and I don’t want to minimize what I want, and I believe in April [Ross] and I so much,” Walsh Jennings tells Us Weekly of her plans and Olympic partner. “People always say, ‘Do you think about losing?’ And what I say is, ‘I don’t even spend one second thinking about that.’”
The beach volleyball player — who won gold in 2004, 2008 and 2012 with now-retired partner Misty May-Treanor — is teaching that same mentality to Ross.
“I think she’s getting more and more comfortable saying it out loud. I know she believes that and her self-talk is that, but it’s another thing saying it out loud,” the 37-year-old tells Us. “I believe myself to be a humble person and I know April is very much a humble athlete, but I think it’s important to put it in words and to put it out there. It reaffirms the goal, it reaffirms the mission and it reaffirms the fact that you have confidence in yourself.”
While the mom of three is “Team USA all the way,” she is already planning to support her fellow Team Visa athletes, including refugee athlete Raheleh Asemani (who competes in Tae Kwon Do) while in Rio.
“This program with Visa exemplifies why I’m very proud to be with them,” says Walsh Jennings, who has been with the brand since 2003. “They have the core values of acceptance and inclusivity. There is so much tough stuff going on in the world and for Visa to recognize that and to bring a refugee on to their team who is just a badass, I absolutely love that.”
The refugees will make up a team of five to 10 athletes who will compete under the International Olympic Committee flag. Their refugee status will be verified by the United Nations.
“I complain about how busy I am and how challenging things are for me and it pales in comparison, I assume, to anything they’re going through,” says Walsh Jennings, who was famously pregnant with daughter Scout, 3, at the 2012 Games in London.
“The perspective that this athlete and these athletes will give to everybody about the dedication and the love and the perseverance and the finding a way that it takes to chase your dreams, I think it’s a really beautiful story. … We don’t want any conditions in the world to keep anyone who deserves to be there out. I’m really proud how they’ve stepped up to fill this void and how the IOC is behind it.”
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