It's no wonder Kerri Walsh Jennings has an insatiable desire for Olympic gold medals: She can't take care of the ones she already has.
Walsh Jennings dropped her medal on the concrete Thursday, just a sleepless night after she and Misty May-Treanor won their third straight Olympic beach volleyball tournament. The medal was scratched in two spots along the rim, but the three-time Olympic champion was not upset about the damage.
"It truly is good to get the first one out of the way," said Walsh Jennings, adding that with two small children, she is used to things at home being dented and dinged.
Has she considered tucking them away in a safe place?
"The best thing about these things is sharing them, because so many people haven't ever held a gold medal," Walsh Jennings said. "People find inspiration in it. I'm blessed that I can share it."
Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor beat fellow Americans April Ross and Jennifer Kessy in the gold medal match Wednesday night to run their Olympic winning streak to a perfect 21-0.
Half of the most dominant team in the sport's history — no man or woman had ever won even two gold medals before — Walsh Jennings was already thinking of a fourth Olympics, turning her thoughts to a fourth gold medal. But she'll need to chase it with another partner because May-Treanor is planning to retire.
She'll have no trouble finding one.
Walsh Jennings said she will play in an FIVB event in Poland next week with Nicole Branagh, a 2008 Olympian she paired with while May-Treanor was injured and contemplating retirement after Beijing.
"Nicole is such a no-brainer," Walsh Jennings said. "She deserves it."
Another possibility is Ross. Kessy turned 35 during the Olympics — the day after May-Treanor — and is unlikely to stick around for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"They're the two girls at the top of my list," said Walsh Jennings, who was on the U.S. indoor volleyball team that finished fourth in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
But first, Walsh Jennings is planning to have another child — she had two sons within a year since the last Olympics, the first conceived before leaving Beijing.
"That would be ideal," she said.
May-Treanor also wants to start a family, but her plans have been complicated by the fact that her husband, Matt Treanor, is a professional baseball player who also travels for his job. After playing for Florida, Detroit, Texas and Kansas City, Treanor is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, so the two have a chance to spend much of their summers together for the first time.
"Beach volleyball's not going to be my career anymore," May-Treanor said Wednesday night "It's time for me to be a wife. I want to be a mom and share time with my family. All of us as athletes sacrifice more on the family end than people realize. And it's getting back to that. My mind says it's time. My body says it's time. And it's the right time."
Walsh Jennings said May-Treanor's retirement gave her a mix of emotions she didn't feel after the first two titles. In addition to the elation of the victory, there was pride in the success of American volleyball — which put two women's teams on the podium for the second time in three Summer Games — and sadness for the end of the most successful partnership in the sport's history.
"I'm just really proud to finish the journey with Misty how we finished it," Walsh Jennings said after the match. "It's been 11 years of really, really fun and crazy times. She's the best there ever has been. To have been with her so long and call her a dear, dear friend and a sister now is the greatest gift ever. I'm glad she went out on top."