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At the 2012 London Olympics, Kerri Walsh Jennings didn't even have the women's beach volleyball gold medal around her neck before she'd picked a new partner for the 2016 games.
It turned out, she was standing right on the other side of the net.
The three-time gold medalist said on TODAY Wednesday that only seconds after her win with long-time partner Misty May-Treanor, she whispered in the ear of opponent April Ross, "Now lets go win gold in Rio."
"We never talked about it beforehand, but it was for sure, in the back of my head, obviously (my) number one choice, but for her to bring it up right in that second was surprising,'' Ross told Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.
"Don't judge me, please!'' Walsh Jennings replied.
May-Treanor, 38, had already announced she was retiring after London, so Walsh Jennings, 37, knew she would need new teammate.
Ross, 33, and Jennifer Kessy were also going to be parting ways after the Olympics, so Walsh Jennings decided to speed up the process.
"I'm like, 'What just came out of my mouth?'' Walsh Jennings said about her post-match offer to Ross.
"I think she was trying to console me, but I mean, it was awesome,'' Ross said. "I was like, 'Yeah, of course, let's do it.'"
It was a daunting invite for Ross considering that Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor are considered the best women's beach volleyball team of all time. They won Olympic gold in 2004, 2008 and 2012, as well as a record 112 straight matches.
"Getting together that first tournament, we were both super nervous,'' Ross said. "I think we got into a rhythm really quickly, and I think that's partly because of who we are as athletes, and we just grew from there."
The two have been together for more than three years, a good amount of time in a sport where playing partners change frequently.
With only 51 days until Rio, they aren't resting up and will continue to fine-tune their play at the AVP New York City Open on June 16-19.
The duo's biggest competition in Rio in August looks to be team Brazil, but Walsh Jennings is fired up for the challenge.
"I think it plays really well for us,'' she said. "We love beating in Brazil, in Brazil especially. To play Brazil at home is going to be super heightened, super crazy, but that's exactly what we like."
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