3x Olympic champion Walsh clears qualifying milestone

MASON, Ohio (AP) — Three-time Olympic beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and her partner, reigning silver medalist April Ross, have cleared their last major obstacle before qualifying for the 2016 Summer Games.

When Walsh Jennings and Ross began their match against Venezuela at the Cincinnati Open on Wednesday morning, they reached the minimum of 12 tournaments required to qualify.

The Americans are a comfortable sixth on the FIVB points list that is used to determine the bulk of the Olympic field. But an injury to Walsh Jennings’ shoulder last fall raised doubts about whether they would be able to play in 12 events. There are two more events left on the international tour schedule before qualification closes in mid-June.

Walsh Jennings won three gold medals with Misty May-Treanor, who has retired. They beat Ross and Jen Kessy in the gold medal match in London four years ago.