Misty May & Kerri Walsh

Solid-Gold Spikers

Despite the anything-can-happen aura surrounding this summer's Olympic Games, certain outcomes seemed inevitable: There would be drama and tears in the gymnastics competition, archery would not make prime time, and the American women would win beach volleyball gold. Of course, it's easy to achieve world dominance on the sand if you are the formidable twosome of Misty May—a five-foot-nine, 150-pound 27-year-old with coils for legs—and Kerri Walsh, 26, whose six-foot-two, 155-pound beanstalk body lets her cover every inch of the net and court. It's not surprising that both women are blessed with Athena-given genes—May's mother was a nationally ranked tennis player, while Walsh's mom was voted MVP on her college volleyball team at Santa Clara University—and both were college superstars in their own right. At Long Beach State, L.A. native May led her team to a 36–0 record and the 1998 NCAA championship, while Walsh, a native of Santa Clara, California, racked up four All-American honors and two consecutive NCAA championships at Stanford. The two paired up in 2001 and were ranked number one in the world by the end of the 2002 season, becoming the first American team to win the world championships, in 2003. Three years of playing solid ball together certainly paid off: The duo (who beat Brazilians Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar in the gold-medal round) didn't drop a single game in Athens. "We played consistently and aggressively from the very first game," says May. "I didn't have any doubt we would win gold."

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