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SPORTS EXTRA: SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Beach Volleyball

Age, Injury Are Biggest Factors as U.S. Men and Women Try to Find Some Gold Hidden in the Australian Sand

September 10, 2000|MIKE BRESNAHAN

WOMEN

* OVERVIEW--Sometimes Misty May doesn't want to leave her house.

And when she does, she inevitably gets badgered about her health.

May, a 23-year-old beach volleyball dynamo from Costa Mesa, is trying to recover from a sports hernia injury that has bothered her since July.

The constant queries about the injury might be an annoyance, but they pale in comparison to how she felt during an Olympic-qualifying tournament in Germany.

The pain became so severe that she consulted a specialist in Vancouver, the same doctor who aided Shaquille O'Neal with his nagging abdominal strain last year.

If it worked for Shaq, maybe it will work for May. Something had to be done before Sydney.

"It just felt like I was getting stabbed all the time," May said.

May has stayed away from the sand since she and veteran Holly McPeak qualified for the Olympics in mid-August.

May has undergone a rigorous regimen that deals more with medicine balls than volleyballs.

The goal of the therapy is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the hernia and provide a cushion around the injury, which will not heal until after the Olympics.

May isn't even sure how she'll feel in Sydney.

"It's hard to say because I haven't tested it yet," May said. "I'm going to find out soon."

The other U.S. team of Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan is injury- and worry-free.

The former UCLA All-Americans, who live in Tarzana, only started playing the two-on-two format a couple years ago, but gelled with sudden swiftness.

Their first two international tournaments ended in bottom-rung finishes, but they began an upward turn last year with a third place at a tournament in Canada.

* OTHERS TO WATCH--Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil have won 20 international tournaments the last four years with quick defense and error-free offense.

Sandra Pires and Adriana Samuel of Brazil. Pires won gold and Smauel won silver in 1996 with different partners.

* BEST STORY--The father-daughter plot line involving Rafer Johnson and Jenny Johnson Jordan. Said Rafer, who won the 1960 Olympic decathlon: "I've always admired Jenny as a daughter. Now I'm admiring her as an Olympian."

* SOUTHLAND ATHLETES ON U.S. TEAM--Jenny Johnson Jordan, 27, Windward High, UCLA; Annett Davis, 26, Long Beach St. Anthony; Holly McPeak, 31, Mira Costa High, UCLA; Misty May, 23, Newport Harbor High, Long Beach State.

* KEY DATES--Sept. 16: It will be seen how healthy May is when she and McPeak play Martina Hudcova and Tereza Tobiasova of the Czech Republic. Sept. 21, round of 16. Sept. 23, quarterfinals and semifinals. Sept. 25, bronze- and gold-medal matches.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Fast Fact

* The U.S. women did not win a medal in 1996, the first year of Olympic beach volleyball. Barbra Fontana and Linda Hanley finished fourth; Holly McPeak and Nancy Reno finished fifth.

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