Kerri Walsh Jennings

Kerri Walsh Jennings ‘happy, relieved’ after Body Issue

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Kerri Walsh Jennings was an ocean away when her ESPN the Magazine Body Issue photos were released, but she still felt an overwhelming reaction.

Walsh Jennings, who won her first beach volleyball match with new partner April Ross in Switzerland on Wednesday, told People magazine she was relieved at the initial public reaction to nude photos of her pregnant and then with her third child, daughter Scout, nine weeks after giving birth.

“I am so happy and relieved that people are receiving my pictures so warmly,” she said. “I didn’t realize how vulnerable I’d feel upon the release of the photos … I am happy and I am proud.”

Walsh Jennings, 34, a three-time Olympic champion, joined fellow Olympians snowboarder Elena Hight, boxer Marlen Esparza, soccer player Sydney Leroux, basketball player Swin Cash and tennis players Agnieszka Radwanska and John Isner in the fifth Body Issue.

On the sand, Walsh Jennings must be feeling proud of her debut with Ross. They’re 3-0 at the FIVB event in Gstaad, Switzerland, knocking off Brazilians Maria Clara and Carol 19-21, 21-12, 15-10 on Thursday and advancing out of pool play.

They won their first match 21-19, 14-21, 15-10 over a Dutch pair on Wednesday and then beat Austrian qualifiers 21-15, 21-19 in their second.

“I think it was a really great day (Wednesday),” Walsh Jennings said in an FIVB press release. “It was ugly from time to time, but I feel like we didn’t panic and we played together. We have good energy and I feel we can build off that.

“I was hitting balls out, but they were close and we need to be OK playing ugly right now and just work through it. It’s a mental thing and the physical will come.”

Also of note: Walsh will not play with Ross but with Whitney Pavlik at the upcoming FIVB tour stop in Long Beach, Calif., from July 22-28 (on NBC, NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports). Ross will play with her Olympic silver medal-winning partner Jennifer Kessy in that event (Men’s draw | Women’s draw).

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Ida Keeling, 100 years old, sets world record at Penn Relays (video)

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Ida Keeling electrified the Penn Relays crowd with her 100-meter dash in 1 minute, 17.33 seconds on Saturday afternoon.

Keeling set a world record for fastest 100m by a woman 100 years and older. There is no data on USA Track and Field and masters athletics websites for a previous record holder.

“I’ll be 101 in a couple of weeks,” Keeling pointed out to NBC Sports’ Carolyn Manno after the race, a mixed-gender event for athletes 80 and older. “I’ve never seen nothing like this crowd. Maybe that’s what the excitement was.”

Keeling’s advice?

“Love yourself, do what you have to do and what you want to do,” she said. “Eat for nutrition, not for taste. And exercise at least once a day.”

More on Keeling is here.

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U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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