Why Claes has a bright volleyball future
Kelly Claes is one of the stars in the new set of players who are going to play in the Tokyo Games. At a very young age, the beach star is set to walk on the same path as volleyball icon April Ross did in her career en route to stardom in the big stage.
Now at the age of 25, Claes hopes that the United States will get to play well in the Tokyo Games. They have a chance to win big in beach volleyball. Looking at the competition, she and her partner Sarah Sponcil can prove their worth on the big stage.
Ross led her partners to four Games in her career. That is how great she’s been over the years. Claes hopes to see the same growth in her own run for the years to come, and she has a long way from making that happen.
Claes and Sponcil are the youngest US beach team to ever make it to the Games. They had to come up through the NCAA beach volleyball program - which didn’t exist until 2012. So far, it has paid off well and they have a great opportunity.
‘This kind of shows what having college beach volleyball can do’, Claes said. ‘There’s just so many more opportunities for women to play. I think it’s incredible, and I think the sport is only going to get better and better in the States’.
The US has been losing ground in beach volleyball. The team is seen as one of the big powers in the sport along with Brazil as they won 20 of the first 30 medals since beach volleyball was put in the Games in 1996.
The US sure has been competitive, but its stars are now far from their prime which brings the need for new young players like Claes and Sponcil for the future.
Kerri Walsh Jennings has won three gold medals with Misty May-Treanor, but now she is set to miss the Games for the first time since 1996 as Claes and Sponcil edged them in the qualifiers. This is a huge change for the US beach team for the next Games.
‘For a long time, the US was Kerri and Misty. All the other countries caught up and passed us’, Claes said. ‘This is the US’s big push to get back on top, and I think it’s our time to lead the charge in this new era’.
The new duo would rise to be the next leaders in the sport. Who knows, they might be the ones to pull off a huge win in the Games for the United States. There is no way that they will give up that easily when it comes to playing on the big stage.
Words: Paul Daniel Flores