Beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings still has Olympic aspirations for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, but she knows time is of the essence.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist will have surgery Thursday to repair a torn labrum and torn capsule in her right shoulder, she told the Los Angeles Times.
Walsh Jennings will miss the remainder of beach volleyball tour events domestically and abroad in 2015, and is aiming to make it back to competition in mid-March. It will be her fifth shoulder surgery.
“They always say six months, but I’ve always been back in four, maybe four and a week,” Walsh Jennings said. “That’s plenty of time—even if I didn’t expedite my rehab—to come back stronger than ever.”
Walsh Jennings initially dislocated her shoulder in May, and then re-injured it during a tournament in July. She returned last month for three key international tournaments—first in Long Beach, then Poland, then Rio—which helped keep her and partner April Ross in contention for a spot in the Olympics.
The duo has participated in seven qualifying events so far, and needs to play in a total of 12 before the cutoff date of June 12, 2016, to be eligible for the Summer Games. A maximum of two American teams can qualify.
“I’m 100% optimistic that if we get healthy and we take off where we finished this year, we’re going to be in an amazing spot,” Walsh Jennings said.