By contrast, I was blown away by the comments of 3-time beach volleyball gold medal winner Kerri Walsh Jennings’ response when she and her partner April Ross were beaten in the semi-finals. In her 4th Olympics, it was Jennings’ first loss EVER. And it meant she wouldn’t be getting a fourth gold medal that she was seeking, the medal she had confidently declared before the Olympics that she WOULD win. She was crushed. But she didn’t name-call or blame the Brazilian team that beat her.
She took responsibility for her part in the loss, and praised her opponents for their level of play.
A devastated Kerri Walsh Jennings said immediately after her defeat,
“My weakness tonight was passing the ball. And then we never gave ourselves breathing room. When you’re shanking balls, and you’re up a point or two and you shank a ball …We can squash that team. We have in the past. I say that with so much respect for them. They’re very, very good. Tonight, they rose to the occasion. I certainly did not. There’s no excuse for it. Just terrible execution. They outplayed us pretty much in every way. Not out-hustled us, not out-hearted us, not out-teamworked us. Just outplayed us.”
Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross are stunned after their Olympic loss to Brazil in the semi-finals.
Both Solo and Walsh Jennings are world-class athletes. Solo is arguably the best women’s goalie in history, with over 100 international shut-outs, and over 150 career wins. Walsh Jennings is definitely the best women’s beach volleyball player of all time
But comparing how they’ve conducted themselves in these crushing defeats, I’m going with Kerri Walsh Jennings as the true champion. And when it comes to an example of sportsmanship, it’s Walsh Jennings I’ll be pointing out to my kids as the one to emulate.