The American duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman are guaranteed to win at least silver in beach volleyball, which would be Ross’s third Olympic medal. But both are seeking their first gold as they play Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy of Australia in today’s final.
Ross won a silver medal at the 2012 Games in London with her partner Jen Kessy, and a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games with Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Klineman, 31, switched to beach volleyball in 2017 after mostly playing indoor volleyball, and teamed with Ross, 39.
On Thursday they defeated Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Joana Heidrich of Switzerland in two sets, 21-12, 21-11, to advance to the gold medal game.
When asked if going for any Olympic medal was getting to be old news, Ross laughed.
“No!” she said emphatically. “We are going to prepare as hard as we can and recover as hard as we can for tomorrow.”
The final will be played in the midday Tokyo sun. But Ross and Klineman do not seem worried. They are getting used to the heat, they said, and are mentally prepared for the sweltering conditions expected during the final.
Artacho del Solar and Clancy hope to follow in the footsteps of Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst, the last Australian duo to win an Olympic medal in the sport, a gold in 2000.
The gold medal game is set for 11:30 a.m. on Friday in Tokyo, 10:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, and will be shown live on NBC.