April Ross during the 2017 World Tour Finals in Hamburg
Lausanne, Switzerland, December 1, 2017 – April Ross is taking off on the long road to her third Olympic participation with a new partner, hoping to finally get that gold medal around her neck in Tokyo. The two-time Olympic medallist from the United States will be showing up at the first FIVB World Tour event in 2018 with beach volleyball rookie Alexandra Klineman.
“I was expecting Fort Lauderdale (in late February - early March) to be my first tournament in 2018, which would give me enough time to find a new partner, get in shape and all that stuff, but then they came out with a January event,” said Ross in SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter
, explaining why she suddenly found herself under pressure to pick out a teammate. “I like it, because it makes me really focused right now. I have always fought for a year-round calendar in our sport, so I don’t mind playing in January.”
The four-star Dela Beach Open in the Hague, taking place from January 3 through 7, will be the first international beach volleyball competition for Alexandra Klineman. Better known as Alix, the 27-year-old athlete from California has been developing a career primarily as an indoor volleyball player with teams from USA, Italy and Brazil, and her only attempts on the sand so far have been on the domestic AVP Pro Beach Tour. In 2017, the 194-cm-tall Klineman claimed one silver and one bronze with Lane Carico and was awarded AVP Rookie of the Year.
April Ross, who turned 35 in June, is one of the most decorated players on the beach and is well-seasoned on the World Tour, where she won the first of her 46 medals so far way back in 2007. Ross claimed her silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games in partnership with Jennifer Kessy. Four years later, together with Kerri Walsh Jennings, she captured the Olympic bronze in Rio. With Tokyo 2020 in mind, the 185-cm-tall player announced Alix Klineman as her new teammate.
“I trained with a couple of people and it came down to really intangible things as I decided to take a shot at Tokyo with Alix Klineman,” said April Ross explaining her choice. “She comes from an indoor background and has a really disciplined and competitive mentality. The way she trains is really focused and really intense, as she understands the importance of practice and determination to win. I watched her physical ability as well. After just one year on the beach she was picking up some really good things. She was a lot quicker than I expected her to be for her height. She changed indoor to beach because she wants to go to the Olympics and she has something to prove. So I like her motivation too.”
April Ross also explained the mental process she went through making her decision to pursue the Olympic gold in Tokyo. “I had some discussions with myself - going forward, am I just trying to be good, play internationally and kind of continue my career just doing the best that I can, or am I in this because I want to go to Tokyo and get that gold that has eluded me for two Olympic cycles now. Is it my career or is it my dream? So I decided that this is me chasing a dream. I know what it takes and it gives me renewed energy. But it is not just you; it is the people around you; it is your teammates... I would not have won at these levels if I did not have amazing teammates.”