April Ross, Alix Klineman Win US Olympic Gold Medal in Beach Volleyball

The third time was apparently a charm for April Ross, an American beach volleyball player who teamed up with Alix Klineman for the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Ross and Klineman needed just two quick sets to dispose the Australians on Friday morning in Tokyo (Thursday night in America) for the gold.

The United States beat the Australians, 21-15, 21-16, to win the gold in straight sets.

As soon as the final point was won for the Americans in the second set, Ross and Klineman gave each other a hug, which looked as much relief as it did celebratory. While Ross chatted with a couple of bystanders, Klineman just sat on the bench and soaked it in, apparently with tears of joy.

The Americans entered the Olympic tournament as the No. 2 seed, and they left as undefeated champions.

April Ross and Alix Klineman
April Ross #1 and Alix Klineman #2 of Team United States celebrate while competing against Team Australia during the Women's Gold Medal Match on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Shiokaze Park on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

It's the fourth gold medal in women's Olympic beach volleyball since the sport was introduced to the Games in 1996 at Atlanta, and the first American gold since 2012, when Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings defeated Ross and Jennifer Kessy in the gold medal match at the London Games.

Ross and Jennings teamed up for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, only to win bronze that quadrennial.

It was the first Olympic appearance for Klineman, winning gold in her first shot. It was the third Olympic beach appearance for Ross, who teamed with Kessy for the silver medal in 2012 and then a bronze with Walsh-Jennings in 2016.

For Ross, it was more than just standing on the podium with another medal. She used this Olympic year to pay gratitude to her mother, Margie, who had a 10-year battle with metastatic breast cancer before passing away 20 years ago.

Margie, the soft-hearted emotional glue of the family who accepted all stray cats—and even nursed them until they could fend for their own—passed away in 2001, when April was a sophomore at the University of Southern California.

Now that 20 years have passed, she still uses her mother's strength and courage to push her on the court, in her health and for promoting good health to the world.

Ross carries the memory of her mother's strength, perseverance and kind heart with her still today, all while facing the toughest beach volleyball players in the world at the Olympics—one year after the world got flipped upside down by COVID and pushed the 2020 Games until the year 2021.

There was the pressure of the Olympics itself, and even more pressure with being favored to medal again.

"I think you can let pressure get to you and it is there, but also part of the mental challenge is dealing with that pressure and keeping it in perspective," Ross told Newsweek before the Tokyo Games began last week.

Ross and Klineman dug their way to a gold medal victory in Tokyo early Friday, and it's something they'll always have to cherish. For Ross, her gold medal goes beyond just a few digs in the Tokyo sand, though.