i'm still concerned. misty has a history of playing hurt and downplaying her injuries. i've seen them carry each other when the other isn't playing her best. walsh will have to pull more than her own weight.
ATHENS, Greece -- A self-assured Misty May sat next to her partner Kerri Walsh at the Main Press Center on Thursday and declared herself fit to play in the Olympic beach volleyball tournament.
"I feel great and I'm ready to go," May said. "There was never a doubt in my mind that I'd participate in the Olympic Games."
After suffering an abdominal strain more than two months ago, May was forced to the sidelines at recent pre-Games tournaments. She last played at the Association of Volleyball Professionals' (AVP) Hermosa Beach Open in July, where she and Walsh forfeited the championship match after the former Long Beach State standout aggravated her injury.
The forfeit scared Walsh, who teamed with May to win the 2003 World Championship, but she has since gained complete confidence in May's health.
"I have to admit that I was worried a bit," said Walsh, who paired with Rachel Wacholder in May's absence to win international tournaments in Marseille and Austria. "But when I got back from Austria, I saw that Misty had worked her butt off. She has been so diligent with her rehabilitation that it erased all doubts that she'd be back in full force."
While Walsh played overseas, May stayed home and worked out with her dad, Butch May, to get back into shape, focusing on plyometric work and conditioning. The Californian is confident her training will make her just as dangerous as she was before the injury. And that should help her on the court if opponents serve toward her to test the injury.
"I think they target me anyway because my partner is 6-foot-3 and smashes the ball back into people's faces," May said with a laugh. "I hope they do target me, because I feel good and I'm ready to play. I'm 100 percent."
Before the injury, May and Walsh put together a 90-match winning streak that included 15 tournament titles. The No. 1 ranked team in the women's field, the Americans will open Olympic play Sunday against Japan's Chiaki Kusuhara and Ryo Tokuno. The match can be seen Sunday at 7 p.m. on NBC.
ATHENS, Greece - Two weeks ago, Misty May sent an e-mail to beach volleyball partner Kerri Walsh that said everything she needed to hear. May promised she would be fully recovered from a pulled abdominal muscle before the Olympics, keeping the world's top-ranked duo together for Athens.
"You know your body," May said Thursday. "Other people don't."
The reassuring note ended a lot of uncertainty and left them the team to beat when pool play starts Sunday.
Walsh was already considering alternate partners when she got the one-paragraph note from May while she was playing a tournament in Austria with Rachel Wacholder. That was good enough for her.
"It was so helpful. It left nothing unanswered," Walsh said. "She said, 'Kerri, don't worry. I will be there. We're going to win this gold medal.'"
The duo plays its first match on Sunday — Walsh's 26th birthday — against Japan's Ryoko Tokuno and Chiaki Kusuhara.
It will be only May's fourth match since mid-June, but she says her skills are still sharp. In-between daily physical therapy sessions this summer, May practiced volleyball with her father, Butch, a member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic indoor team.
May and Walsh have been training together for only the past week and a half, but Walsh their on-court chemistry has returned.
"We haven't lost a step," said the 6-foot-3 Walsh. "We know each other very well."
They became partners after the 2000 Olympics. May and Holly McPeak finished fifth in Sydney, where May was still recovering from a more severe abdominal injury suffered a few weeks earlier. Walsh was playing on the 2000 indoor team that placed fourth.
Both were soured by their experiences and met through their mutual agent, Tom McCarthy.
They were teammates the following spring and won their second event together. They earned four top-5 finishes and more than $111,000 in 2001.
"Relatively speaking, it was a pretty unbelievable first year," said Walsh.
Once Walsh completed the adjustment to the beach game — what she called getting her "sand legs" — the duo got better in a hurry, going 66-8 in 2002. They won four times in early 2003 before losing to Brazilians Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires in Norway.
And then the streak began. May and Walsh won an unprecedented 90 consecutive matches and 15 straight tournaments, a streak that ended in early June after May pulled her abdominal muscle.
Walsh said they duo has done its best to put the loss, the injury and the recent adversity out of mind to focus on the task ahead.
"I can't even tell you what I'm thinking," Walsh said. "I can't stop thinking about this. I want the gold medal so badly."