Kerri Walsh Jennings set on retiring after Tokyo

The American wants a fourth Olympic gold in Japan before quitting

Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings knows her career's nearly over.

The 39-year-old has confirmed in an AP interview that she will bow out of beach volleyball after Tokyo 2020.

She wants to go out on a high with a fourth gold in the Japanese capital in two years' time, although the path ahead is complicated.

Walsh Jennings turns 42 during the Games. She's only recently returned after injury. And she doesn't currently have a partner.

Kerri Walsh Jennings of United States in action during the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Itapema on May 18, 2018 in Itapema, Brazil.  (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
Kerri Walsh Jennings of United States in action during the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Itapema on May 18, 2018 in Itapema, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)Kerri Walsh Jennings of United States in action during the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Itapema on May 18, 2018 in Itapema, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)

Rio disappointment

Walsh Jennings partnered April Ross at the last Olympics, but they failed to make it four straight golds for the United States.

The pair had to settle for bronze, after Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor had won the last three titles beginning at Athens 2004.

It was a result that took a while to get over.

She had "performed terribly", in her words, and it resulted in her "living in fear on the court."

That, coupled with injuries, meant Walsh Jennings and her new partner Nicole Branagh failed to make the FIVB World Tour finals in 2017.

They split as a team last month. Walsh Jennings says she's narrowed the options for her next teammate down to two.

Rocky road to Tokyo

"I have no partner. I just came off two surgeries," Walsh Jennings said.

But the daunting challenge she faces isn't putting her off.

"I know I’m going to win gold in Tokyo."

The surgeries she mentions took place on her right shoulder and left ankle.

She's only just recovering the full use of her shoulder while training.

All that is making the American more determined about her goal. "It makes this one and this journey that much more meaningful," she said in her AP interview.

Still going strong

Walsh Jennings is still giving back to her sport.

After falling out with the U.S.-based Association of Volleyball Professionals tour in 2016, she set up her own event, called "p1440" after the number of minutes in a day.

San Jose, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Huntington Beach are pencilled in for p1440, with four more cities planned for 2019.

Walsh Jennings hopes her event will help volleyball sustain public interest in the sport between Olympic years.

But it might not have happened if not for her disappointment two years ago.

"I think I would have retired if we won gold in Rio.

"This is my platform. I’m not done with my platform."

Kerri Walsh Jennings in action at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Itapema. (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
Kerri Walsh Jennings in action at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Itapema. (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)Kerri Walsh Jennings in action at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Itapema. (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)

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