Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross were given a surprise boost during their Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games quarterfinal win over Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy when members of the USA’s men’s basketball team visited Copacabana Beach Arena to lend their support.
Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, DeAndre Jordan and Jimmy Butler arrived midway through the first match of the session – Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas’ win over Ekaterina Birlova and Evgenia Ukolova – and enthusiastically lent their support from the stands.
It seemed to do the trick as Walsh-Jennings and Ross reached the Rio 2016 semis with a 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) victory over the Australians.
“I didn’t notice them until I heard them cheering in the middle of one of our rallies and then I was like, ‘oh, look who’s over here’,” Ross, a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fans said. “They really fired me up when I heard them cheering for us.
“What I really love about the Olympics is the way we are all part of Team USA and all support each other.”
With the match crossing over midnight Walsh-Jennings was able to begin her 38th birthday celebrations with the basketball players, who joined in the stadium in singing “Happy Birthday” to the triple Olympic gold medallist.
“Those to me are the best athletes in the world, basketball players,” she said. “They play at a high level and every time I caught a glimpse they seemed so in to it and when we won they seemed so proud.
“I love that they are not above the Olympics. They are here and prideful and proud of our country and that makes me just really proud”