How Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Redefined Olympic Beach Volleyball

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How Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Redefined Olympic Beach Volleyball
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh became volleyball royalty when the duo won the gold medal in beach volleyball at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"The Turtle" and "Six Feet of Sunshine," as they have affectionately been nicknamed, solidified their perch atop the beach volleyball world with a repeat at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Now, all that is left for them to accomplish is an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal, an honor that the pair will be gunning for at the 2012 London Olympics.

"We're strong. We're fit. We're healthy. We're fast. And we're determined. So, watch out. ... We're ready. In every single way, we're ready."

Those are the words of Walsh, the 6'3" Santa Clara native (via AZfamily.com) who spoke with the website from London as she and her longtime partner gear up for the Summer Games.

Never before has the sport of beach volleyball seen such dominance sustained for this long of a stretch. This partnership dates back to 2001, when the two left their former teammates and united for what surely was an unexpected run of excellence.

Right from the get-go, May-Treanor and Walsh won the FIVB Tour championship in 2002, then followed that performance with an undefeated (39-0) season on the ATP Tour and were named "Team of the Year." It wasn't one year of brilliance, but five more after that, as they garnered the same title for the next half decade (per BVBinfo.com)

The word "redefine" should not be thrown around with reckless abandon, but the established resume that May-Treanor and Walsh have compiled over the last decade is one that rivals the greatest teams of all time—in any sport.

On the AVP Tour, they have played a total of 75 events. They finished first in 63, second in nine and third in three. That makes for an 84 percent victory clip that the best teams over all athletic competitions have a hard time standing up to.

Through all tournaments, May-Treanor and Walsh have finished first in 103 out of 154 events. They have won almost 70 percent of the matches they have played alongside one another, 

No opponent has been able to withstand the combination of offensive precision and defensive prowess that the two bring to the table.

Walsh was named the FIVB Best Blocker from 2005-2008, then again in 2011, Best Hitter from 2005-2007 and Best Offensive Player in 2007.

May-Treanor was named the FIVB Best Setter in 2005, Best Offensive Player in 2005, 2007 and 2008 and Best Defensive Player in 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Their collective unpredictability is what makes them so good. Walsh, who has six inches on May-Treanor, can obviously spike the ball, but the shorter of the two can get up to finish at the net as well.

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They both can set to each other—May-Treanor is adept at digging the ball out, while Walsh places it perfectly for her partner to send home.

There isn't one glaring weakness that has been exposed to date. The two act as one cohesive unit and never waiver in their quest to win two-of-three sets.

We never saw a tandem that could seemingly saunter into a competition and run roughshod on the rest of the field until May-Treanor and Walsh banded together to form the most formidable duo in beach volleyball.

They haven't finished the job yet and are hoping to exact their magnum opus at the 2012 London Olympics.

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