When they played their first match of the London Olympics the other night, beach volleyball legends Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings eschewed their usual competition bikinis. It was 11 p.m., after all — and in London. "It's cold," Walsh Jennings said. In addition to the wet and chilly conditions, the federation that governs Olympics beach volleyball decided this time around, in deference to athletes from nations that prefer more modesty, that women do not have to perform on the sand in two-piece bathing suits. Bad news for the American champions: because of their popularity, their early round matches have all been scheduled for 11 p.m. — the latest they have ever played a match.
As for the venue, Walsh Jennings was impressed: "I’m just in awe,” she said of the newly built Horse Guards Parade stadium near Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. “It’s the most beautiful venue I’ve ever played in.” She and May-Treanor defeated Austalians Natalie Cook and Tasmin Hinchley in Saturday night's match. The Aussies opted for long pants with t-shirts under their bikini tops; other teams have also chosen to cover up, at least for the night matches.
So the streak continues: May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings, the gold-medal winners at the games in 2004 and 2008, have never lost even a set in Olympic competition. NBC's Olympics website has posted a slideshow of photos showing them in London, including at the opening ceremonies.
* Monday night update: May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings won their second match, though not easily. The Clippers' Chris Paul and fellow NBA star Russell Westbook, formerly of UCLA, were spotted watching in the stands. It was an even cooler night, by the way: both teams wore pants and shirts.