US Beach Volleyballers Excited for LA, Disappointed Not '24

(ATR) American beach volleyball stars are happy for a hometown Olympics, but few will actually compete there.

(ATR) American beach volleyball players are thrilled that the Summer Olympics will return to Los Angeles, but they wish it had been for 2024.

Competing at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna, Southern Californian based-players celebrated Monday’s news that L.A. has announced its candidature for the 2028 Games. However, they pondered what might have been.

Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross expressed mixed emotions.

"I’ve had to re-frame it a little bit because I was really wanting to get the ’24 Games thinking that I could possibly still play and play in L.A.," said the 29-year-old Ross, who resides in Costa Mesa, Calif. "Now that it’s in ’28, I for sure will probably not be playing.

"My goal is to make Tokyo 2020 and if I make Tokyo, I can’t imagine not giving Paris a shot, but it was 100-percent I was going to go for LA. if it was 2024."

The two-time Olympian looks forward to the hometown Games with the excitement of attending as a spectator.

"I’m super stoked that we’re getting the Games and I think the beach volleyball event in Santa Monica will be spectacular," Ross said.

"I’m a little bummed it wasn’t 2024, but amazing that L.A. will host an Olympics," said Ross’ partner Laura Fendrick, 35, after a victory. "

Phil Dalhausser, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, said although probably unlikely, he could have envisioned himself serving and spiking on the Los Angeles beaches if the outcome had been different.

"I wasn’t planning on 2024, but if I’m still winning at 44, then I’ll probably try and go for Paris," said the 37-year-old veteran.

The young, up and coming U.S. duo of Kelly Claes, 21, and Sara Hughes, 22, both Southern Californians and recent U.S.C. graduates, might still be in their prime at a home Olympics in 2028.

"To be able to play at home will be the ultimate experience," Hughes said.

"We would have loved it for ’24, but it being in L.A. and competing at home with our friends and family would be a dream come true," Claes said.

Santa Monica Beach – the birthplace of beach volleyball – will host the sport for Los Angeles 2028. While the first beach courts were set up in 1920, the first known two-man games were contested in the popular southern Californian beach town by 1930. The sport expanded globally shortly thereafter.

"It’s pretty cool – it will kind of be the same atmosphere like in Rio at Copacabana last year," Dalhausser said, envisioning the 2028 Games.

"Everything is already ready basically for L.A., other than a subway system and I think the extra four years will help them get it better sorted out," Dalhausser said.

"The vibe and atmosphere is going to create something really special," Fendrick said.

In 2024, Paris will host beach volleyball at Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Although, there is no French beach volleyball presence at the Vienna World Championships, as was also the case in Rio 2016, the iconic setting will certainly trigger substantial interest.

U.S. star Ross met and had lunch with IOC president Thomas Bach earlier this week on the sidelines of the Vienna Championships.

"In my mind you can’t go wrong with Paris, it’s one of my favorite cities on earth," Ross said, congratulating Bach for pulling off the tripartite agreement. "I think L.A. has the infrastructure already in place and I hope it’s an economically responsible Games."

Athletes Brave the Austrian Summer Heat

Sweltering temperatures ascended to near record 38 degrees Celsius during Thursdays’ busy slate of elimination matches on Danube Island in Vienna.

Athletes said the sand felt even hotter.

Brazilian legend Bruno said that conditions were tougher than the hottest days in Rio de Janeiro.

Dancing girls in towers spread around the stadium court blasted fans in bathing suits with huge douses of water during breaks to help keep them cool. Despite the heat and sun-soaked stadium, the stands were about 75% filled with enthusiastic fans during late afternoon matches.

"It’s very, very hot – I hear 40 degrees Celsius, but our Physios had ice and water so we could dunk towels into it, and I never felt like I was overheating," Dalhausser said.

Fortunately, for fans, players and media, temperatures are expected to drop slightly on Friday with the high only ascending to a cool 35.

The tournament concludes with men’s finals on Sunday.

Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Vienna

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