Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross set Rio goal on TODAY (video)


Gold medal contenders Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross joined Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie on TODAY, and set a goal to speak with Lauer again on TODAY in Rio after winning gold (Guthrie won’t be in Brazil).

Should that happen, Walsh Jennings would be holding her fourth consecutive Olympic beach volleyball gold medal. It would be a first for Ross, but her second Olympic medal.

Ross teamed with Jen Kessy at the London Games and earned silver after falling to Walsh Jennings and her longtime partner, Misty May-Treanor, in the women’s final. Walsh Jennings and Ross teamed up soon thereafter, a move sparked by something Walsh Jennings whispered into Ross’ ear as they hugged following the final match in London.

“Now let’s go win gold in Rio,” Walsh Jennings said, recalling the moment on TODAY.

“And I did answer,” Ross said. “She didn’t think that I answered.”

“I think I was like, ‘What just came out of my mouth?'” Walsh Jennings said.

Walsh Jennings and Ross teaming up was certainly a possibility as the two played against each other in London, as May-Treanor and Kessy planned on taking some time away from the sport following the Games. When the partnership finally materialized in 2013, they immediately became the U.S.’s best pair on the beach.

“We never talked about it beforehand, but it was for sure in the back of my head – obviously (she’d be my) No. 1 choice,” Ross said. “But for her to bring it up right in that second was surprising… But it was awesome. I was like, Of course, let’s do it.”

Here’s the full interview:

Walsh Jennings and Ross have found their form in 2016. They’ve competed in seven FIVB World Tour events, advancing to the semifinals each time and winning four gold medals. The duo has also competed in one AVP Tour event, which they also won.

The AVP Tour swings through New York City this weekend. The finals will be aired on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra from 4-6 p.m. ET Saturday and 4:30-6 p.m. ET Sunday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross’ biggest foe in the Olympics will be the home-crowd favorites. The Americans have been the best team this year, but two Brazilian pairs will hold higher seeds. The Rio Olympic competition begins Aug. 6 on Copacabana Beach.

“We love beating Brazil, in Brazil especially,” Walsh Jennings said. “The world is so good at beach volleyball and to play Brazil at home, it’s going to be super heightened, super crazy. But that’s exactly what we like.”

MORE: NBC Sports’ broadcast schedule of the 2016 AVP Tour

U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics

Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024

The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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