Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross were expected to win gold in Rio, but they lost, 2-0, in the semifinals to Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas. Even worse, they had to play the bronze-medal match the very next day.
“Honestly, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career,” Ross said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “We had a day off every day during the Olympics – except after we lost the semi. We had to play the next day. To turn that around, we were so devastated. (We had) to wrap (our) head around, ‘Okay, we’re not getting the gold medal, but we still want to get on that podium. We still want to bring a medal home to the United States.’ In your head, you know that. You know that’s what you want to do. But to find the emotion to back that and the mental fortitude to come back and do that, it was really, really hard.”
The dynamic duo found it nonetheless, beating Brazil’s Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes, 2-1, to win bronze.
“We were playing a team that we had only beat one time, the No. 1 team in the Olympics,” Ross said. “(It was) the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But we had so much love and support from the United States. I can’t say enough how much that mattered. It really was the difference between us winning that match or not. It was so hard.”