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Catching up with Olympic silver medalists April Ross, Jen Kessy [update]

September 21, 2012|By Lisa Dillman
  • Silver medalists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross of the U.S. on the medal podium in London.
Silver medalists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross of the U.S. on the medal podium… (Jamie Squire / Getty Images )

It's a favorite and almost timeless question asked of the athletes after the Olympics Games: Where do you keep your medal?

Beach volleyball star April Ross, who won silver in London with partner Jen Kessy, had a well ... interesting location for hers.

“Usually, I have it with me all the time in my purse,” Ross said by phone this week. “But right now I have this moose fixture above our fireplace, and it’s hanging on its antlers.

 “I feel that’s as safe as any other spot.”

Well done.

 A few minutes later, Kessy was talking about the same subject and she happened to have her silver medal with her on the way to a promotional appearance.

“I would say about half the people want to touch and want to wear it,” Kessy said. “And the other half is like: 'I am not worthy . That is your medal.' They don’t want to touch it. They just want a picture with me.”

The post-Olympic glow has not dimmed at all. In fact, Kessy doubted it would ever wear off.

But this weekend represents a homecoming of sorts and a post-Olympic tour for the Orange County natives. They will be playing in the Jose Cuervo Pro National Championships in Huntington Beach, which is their first appearance back on the tour this year. Main-draw action starts Saturday and the semifinals and finals are on Sunday.

[Update, 3 p.m.: Ross and Jen Kessy withdrew from the Jose Cuervo tour stop in Huntington Beach. Organizers were informed of their withdrawal Friday afternoon. Kessy apparently was suffering from a shoulder injury, officials said. The Orange County natives were scheduled to play on Saturday in main-draw action and this was to have been their first appearance on the Cuervo tour this year.]

One difference for them will be the ball used in Huntington Beach.

“We haven’t used the Spalding ball all year. And it is extremely different than the Wilson and the other one that we used,” Kessy said. “That’s the biggest difference and the biggest issue.

“The Spalding just feels a little bit heavier. A lot of the balls that would be hit out with the other two balls would be in with this.”

One of the more memorable moments of the London Olympics was the All-American beach volleyball final when the legendary team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings beat Ross and Kessy in an electric setting at Horse Guards Parade. It was the third straight Olympic gold medal for May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings.

 “It’s the most amazing place I’ve ever played,” Ross said. “And it was just a huge center stage in front of the entire world for beach volleyball. Which is just amazing for our sport.

“It [hearing the anthem] doesn’t  happen many times when you come in second place at the Olympics. We felt fortunate for that. Just going through all the hard work that got us to that point and how we could have lost several matches and not been there.

“I wasn’t going to let the fact that we lost in the finals hinder my ability to appreciate that moment.”

How about the implications of the Olympics for the sport?

“I don’t know if I totally know the impact yet on how it’s going to affect all the tours,” Kessy said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to reap those rewards, all the attention in the U.S, with 30 million people watching the final and hopefully some big sponsors will come in.”

Lastly, the Olympic road to Rio -- are Ross and Kessy planning to take it in 2016?

Ross said she is on “full board.”

 “I’ve been asked that question a lot,” Kessy said. “I think right afterward, I was, ‘No. I couldn’t be happier. No way.’ But I think, for me, it’s going to depend on the next few years and how we have to qualify for the Olympics.

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