BEIJING -- They danced and screamed and celebrated in the raindrops, looking like two kids who didn’t know enough to come inside for cover.
That seemed fitting because Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor’s second straight gold medal, earned Thursday morning in a driving rainstorm, could mark the end of one of sport’s most successful and recognizable partnerships -- for a simple reason.
Walsh and May-Treanor want to have babies.
You have heard of maternity leave. For the many fans who follow this dynamic duo’s every beach volleyball move, including Thursday’s 21-18, 21-18 victory over China’s Tian Jia and Wang Jie, this could be maternity grieve.
Indeed, on the medal stand, those weren’t just raindrops on Walsh’s face. They were tears.
“That was eight years of awesomeness and family support and love,” Walsh said. “We both want to start a family. We need to slow down and breathe a little bit, focus on our families. I’m not done. I hope Misty’s not done. I can’t imagine playing beach volleyball without her.”
Walsh and May-Treanor put off parenting plans until after the 2008 Beijing Olympics to put a semicolon, if not a period, on their eight-year run with a second gold medal.
Mission accomplished. From rain showers to baby showers. May-Treanor and Walsh, who ended this match with a spike, approach their hiatus with winning streaks of 69 straight international matches and 108 overall counting AVP Tour play.
“I was putting everything into it as my last Games,” May-Treanor said. “It’s too far ahead to look ahead. I would like to come back and have my kids see me play. But I would like to start a new journey and see my husband too.”
The reason their partnership could be in jeopardy is that Walsh, unequivocally, has talked about taking a year off before returning to the AVP Tour and international play. Her husband is fellow pro beach volleyball player Casey Jennings, so they already have mastered the balancing act of home and work lives.
May-Treanor is married to Florida Marlins catcher Matt Treanor, whose season runs along hers, so child care could be a problem.
If this is the end, Walsh and May-Treanor can savored every moment from this Olympic run, which featured seven consecutive straight-sets victories.
May-Treanor spread her mother’s ashes in the sand after their semifinal and gold-medal victories. Walsh has continued her practice of shaking more hands than a politician after matches.
“We just enjoy what we do and it comes with all our hard work,” May-Treanor said. “We like young kids looking up to us and building a future for the sport.
“I don’t know if we’re a dynasty. Maybe we’re legends?”
Partnerships come and go in this sport like waves off the beaches. But Walsh and May-Treanor have endured.
“I am so reliant on Misty and I love her so much. We respect each other so much, we would be a good married couple,” Walsh said. “About nine to 11 months a year, we’re together. You need to have a special relationship. We hit the jackpot when we found each other.”
The pot still contains gold.
*--* Medal winners G: Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh (United States)
S: Tian Jia and Wang Jie (China)
B: Xue Chen and Zhang Xi (China)