LONDON Misty May-Treanor danced on the sand and then off it, taking a victory lap around the court before leaving Horse Guards Parade with Kerri Walsh Jennings as three-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalists.
Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor extended their Olympic winning streak to 21 in a row unbeaten in Athens, Beijing and now London with a 21-16, 21-16 victory over Jennifer Kessy and April Ross on Wednesday night in an all-American championship game.
The match started with nearby Big Ben pealing the hour and ended with the Star-Spangled Banner playing in the iconic venue near the Prime Ministers Downing Street office and just down the Mall from the royal residence at Buckingham Palace. Playing on Henry VIIIs jousting tiltyard, with the current Prince Harry in the crowd, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor continued their reign as champions of the beach.
We set the bar very high, said May-Treanor, who has said she will retire. We extended ourselves over that bar even higher.
Even Ross and Kessy, who won a silver medal in their Olympic debut, have called their fellow Americans legends.
Theyre the best team of all time, Kessy said.
Dominating the sport for three Olympics, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor have won every match theyve ever played at the Summer Games and lost just one of 43 sets.
No one had ever won even two beach volleyball gold medals before the Americans won their second consecutive in Beijing.
No woman had ever won three Olympic beach volleyball medals of any kind.
Kudos. Hats off to them, Ross said. Thats just ridiculous.
Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor pulled away in the first set and never were threatened in the second, falling to their knees and hugging as Ross final serve went long on match point.
May-Treanor, who was knocked out of Dancing with the Stars when she tore her Achilles tendon, then began doing a funky jig to rival the scantily clad cheerleaders who help bring the beach party atmosphere to the sold-out crowds in central London.
The winners then took the celebration to the stands, circling the temporary 15,000-seat stadium built on the household cavalrys centuries-old parade grounds and high-fiving just about anyone holding an American flag. They hugged their family and friends in the stands although not May-Treanors husband, Matt, a Los Angeles Dodgers catcher who was watching on a computer from the teams clubhouse.
They hugged on the podium after the gold medals were draped around their neck then shared one with their fellow Californians first-time Olympians who helped give the United States its best womens finish since beach volleyball was added to the Olympics in 1996.
Its insane. It doesnt feel like its real, Walsh Jennings said. I told Misty when we were getting our medals, If I wake up tomorrow and we have to replay this match, Im going to be furious. Because it feels like Im in a dream. It truly feels surreal, and it didnt feel like that the first two times for whatever reason. But this, its almost too good to be true.
Earlier Wednesday, Brazils Juliana and Larissa beat Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China in the bronze medal match.
Brazils Emanuel and Alison were scheduled to play Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann of Germany in the mens gold medal match on Thursday night. Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia were to play Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands for the mens bronze.