Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Will Coast to Their Most Emphatic Gold Medal

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  Misty May-Treanor of the United States and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States celebrate during the Women's Beach Volleyball Round of 16 match between United States and Netherlands on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Horse Guards Parade on August 4, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor will cruise to their third straight Olympic gold medal in London. China's Xue Chen and Xi Zhang will give them problems in Tuesday's semifinal, but it won't be enough to slow this dynamic duo down.

In case you didn't already know this, May-Treanor and Walsh are pretty good. They didn't lose a single set en route to a gold medal in Athens in 2004, and they did the same in 2008 at the Beijing games.

We aren't talking matches. We are talking sets. I'm not a professional beach volleyball player, but that's not an easy thing to do. Playing with the same maniacal focus night in and night out isn't easy in any sport, but these two have their routine down pat.

Things haven't been as easy in London, but they've still been pretty easy. They entered London on a 30-set win streak, but did lose a set to Australia in their preliminary contest. If this was anyone else it would be a possible reason for concern, but I think we can cut these two some slack.

For one, Walsh has been dealing with pink eye. That's not fun for anyone to deal with, and that especially goes for world-class athletes in the midst of their biggest moment. Walsh could have let this really impact their game, but she "toughed" it out and managed to maintain her elite play.

On top of that is their age. Walsh is 34 years old and May-Treanor is one year older than that. In normal everyday life that's not a big deal, but age plays a massive role in sports. It impacts endurance, athleticism and long-term potential.

Some teams in the Olympic field are 10 years younger than the American duo. Who would you take in a tightly contested third set? I'd still take Walsh and May-Treanor, but it certainly evens the playing field.

The health problems and age concerns cast some doubt on their ability to win gold before London's games began, but they've already shown their talent is the same. They've overcome any issues, or hurdles standing in their way so far, and they aren't going to slow down for anyone.

It's easy to anticipate a gold medal for the younger, healthier version of this pair, but this year's gold medal will be their biggest statement to date.