Beach Volleyball Star Kerri Walsh Jennings Says the Hardest Part About the Olympics Is Being Away From Home
By Raphael Chestang
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The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are exactly 100 days away, and ET is counting down to the opening ceremonies with American beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings.
"I'm pumped!" Jennings tells ET. "I know every single Olympian across the world is pumped, because it's a big milestone."
The 37-year-old California native has already won three gold medals with her previous partner, Misty May-Treanor, but now she's ready to begin a new dynasty with partner April Ross.
"We want to win a gold medal in Rio," Jennings says. "We plan on winning a gold medal in Rio!"
The pair has been training hard for their competition, but Jennings admits that her biggest challenge isn't the training, it's being away from her husband, beach volleyball player Casey Jennings, and their three children.
"My daughter's three and she just knows that Mommy keeps leaving, which is sad, but they get it," Jennings shares. "I take them with me wherever I go in my heart, but it's not the same."
Jennings' struggles today are vastly different from when she was starting out as an Olympic hopeful. As athletes have to pay their own way when training for the Olympics, Jennings reveals to ET that 10 years ago she walked dogs, shuffled papers and worked in a shoe store to make ends meet. This might be why it's so important to her to give back.
Jennings has partnered with Dick's Sporting Goods, which wants ET to share the news of their Contender Program. The company employs nearly 200 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, like beach volleyball player Ian Satterfield, to help them pursue their dreams.
Additionally, ET was with Jennings when she surprised up-and-coming high school volleyball player McKenna Stevens with a trip to the Rio Olympic Games to see Jennings play.
"Dick's Sporting Goods has picked you and your mama to send you to Rio to watch the Olympics," Jennings told Stevens.