Kerri Walsh Jennings, 40, is now the oldest FIVB Beach gold-medal winner.
The icon of the sport, battling injuries and working with different partners the past few years, teamed with Brooke Sweat to win the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Jinjiang on Sunday in China.
The victory at the four-star event was worth a $20,000 payoff for the pair after they defeated Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy 21-17, 21-19.
They also picked up 800 points towards qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as Walsh Jennings and Sweat — a new team in 2018-19 — came out of qualification to win their first FIVB event together. It’s Sweat’s first World Tour gold medal.
“It’s been so long, it just feels good,” Walsh Jennings told the FIVB. “It feels good to play well as a team, it feels good to improve, it feels so good to finish on top. The world is so good at volleyball so you have to be the best on that day to win and we played great and it was so fun.
It was her first time on the top of the podium since 2016 and a special day for Sweat, too.
“It’s my first gold, so to get it with Kerri in such a great tournament, we played some great teams. I’m so excited and looking forward to more,” Sweat said.
Americans Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb lost in the the men’s bronze-medal to Brazil’s Andre Loyola and George Wanderley 21-17, 21-10.
Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum won their second consecutive men’s gold medal, besting Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Oscar Schmidt 14-21, 21-17, 15-12.
Walsh Jennings-Sweat reached the final by defeating Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Lisboa in the semifinals 21-19, 19-21, 15-13.
“We’re crawling our way up the ranks, not just with the world, but the U.S. teams too,” Sweat said. “We just want to keep going and as long as we keep getting better and better, we’re not going to be worried about points. But it’s awesome now and we will get back to work again soon.”
In the other semi, Artacho and Clancy beat Brazilians Ana Patricia Silva and Rebecca Cavalcanti 25-23, 21-14. The Brazilians went on to win bronze with a 21-19, 21-15 victory over Bednarczuk and Lisboa.
The Norwegians were a two-man American wrecking crew in Jinjiang, defeating all three USA men’s teams Saturday.
Mol-Sorum beat Ryan Doherty and John Hyden (21-13, 21-15), squeaked by Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena (21-18, 18-21, 16-14), and defeated Bourne and Crabb (21-15, 21-15).