Misty May, one half of the world's top-ranked women's beach volleyball team, withdrew from a tournament for the third time in four weeks as a pulled abdominal muscle continued to bother her, but she said Friday that the injury would not keep her out of the Olympics.
May and partner Kerri Walsh have dominated the sport the last two years and are favored to win the gold medal in Athens next month. Walsh is playing this week in Norway with Rachel Wacholder, but May wanted to take time off to let her injury heal.
"Our main focus is Athens," May said. "It feels pretty good now, much better than it did two weeks ago."
May plans to reunite with Walsh for the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals' Hermosa Beach Open on July 24. The Olympics begin Aug. 13.
Before pulling out of the Norway tournament this week, May skipped an AVP event in San Diego June 12-13, and on June 23 withdrew from an international tour event after one match.
In between, she and Walsh won an international event in Switzerland, though May played in pain.
"It really started hurting in the final match," May said. "We fought through it and won, but it was not fun."
She first felt the pain May 29 during an AVP event in Huntington Beach. May and Walsh won that event, but the next week lost in the semifinals at Manhattan Beach. It ended a 15-tournament win streak.
May strained an abdominal muscle just before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where she finished fifth with Holly McPeak, but she said this is not a recurrence of that injury.
"It's new," she said.
May said it hurts most when she is hitting, but the discomfort was not limited to her time on the court.
"It even hurt when I'd roll over in my sleep," she said.
She has been attending regular physical therapy sessions and went to the gym for training Friday for the first time in a week. She said she is not concerned that the time away from Walsh, who advanced to the final four with Wacholder in Norway, will impair the team's timing or teamwork.
"If anything, it was suffering because I was playing hurt," she said. "I'm not worried about it at all."