Beach volleyball icon Kerri Walsh Jennings fails to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Kerri Walsh Jennings standing in front of a crowd: TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 27: Kerri Walsh Jennings (R) and Brooke Sweat of the United States react in the Women’s Round 1 match against Carolina Salgado and Maria Antonelli of Brazil on day four of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Tokyo, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Test Event, at Shiokaze Park on July 27, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

The most decorated beach volleyball player of all time will not be part of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

An upset loss at a tournament in the Czech Republic on Wednesday doomed Kerri Walsh Jennings’ bid to reach her sixth Olympics at age 42.

Walsh Jennings and partner Brooke Sweat needed to finish third or better at the J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open to keep hope alive of qualifying for Tokyo. They instead failed to even make it into the main draw, falling to unheralded Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam of the Netherlands, 21-18, 19-21, 15-12.

The early loss ensures that Walsh Jennings and Sweat cannot overtake fellow Americans Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil on the international tour point list. Claes and Sponcil clinched one of two U.S. berths in Tokyo, joining medal contenders April Ross and Alix Klineman.

“It’s a terrible, terrible feeling,” Walsh Jennings told the Associated Press after the match. “It’s been a really rough year, and to lose in a qualifier, it feels really hard right now.”

For Walsh Jennings, this could be the final act in a storied volleyball career. It started in Northern California with three state championships at Arch Bishop Mitty High and four first-team All-American awards at Stanford. Walsh Jennings then led the U.S. indoor women’s volleyball team to a fourth-place finish at the 2000 Olympics before transitioning to the beach.

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