April Ross and Alix Klineman secure Olympic spot: Trying to maximise each day

The American has clinched one of the two team spots for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. One year ago during the lockdown she found creative ways to spend time without competition.

By ZK Goh

"I'm trying to maximise each day."

That was April Ross's mantra as the two-time Olympic medallist in beach volleyball was forced to find ways of coping with coronavirus restrictions.

"I realised that we could be here for a while and I couldn’t waste this time," she told the Los Angeles Times at the time.

The 37-year-old, who partnered Jennifer Kessy to London 2012 silver and Kerri Walsh Jennings to Rio 2016 bronze, was on the cusp of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Games with her new partner Alix Klineman when events started to be postponed.

Ross has now mathematically secured her spot for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 after winning a tournament in Doha.

With only a handful of major beach volleyball tournaments left before the qualification deadline Ross and Alix Klineman have accumulated enough points to be assured of their place on the Olympic team.

Viral video

Ross has tried to take the time to get the small things done: cleaning her house; finding new (and old) hobbies – woodwork and baking, to name two; and following the latest updates on the news.

But the majority of the time, the veteran Californian has tried not to let her sport slip to one side.

With no competition, Ross suddenly found time to conduct video analysis of both her team and others.

Everything else involved with staying in shape followed: working out in her temporary garage gym, keeping her mind fresh through sports psychology and visualisation techniques.

And she went viral on social media.

With beaches and courts closed, Ross created a makeshift volleyball set-up in her backyard using a board she set against a tree.

The video quickly racked up the views and comments.

People wrote to Ross asking how big their board should be; others sent her clips of them attempting to practise with similar set-ups.

"It’s good to spread awareness for the sport," Ross told the FIVB.

Tokyo goal

When the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021 in an unprecedented move, Ross admits she felt "discombobulated".

"I didn’t know what to think and it was a little bit frustrating," Ross said to the LA Times.

"As the postponement got closer it seemed inevitable, so I wasn’t shocked when they made the announcement," she further explained to the FIVB. "But I was hanging on to it."

Now, it's about using every day to continue working towards the return of competition.

Aside from her gym work (she lifts weights in her garage) and her makeshift volleyball games with the net, Ross is focusing on the new dates for the Olympic Games as part of her visualisation programme.

Ross will be 39 by the time competition starts in the Japanese capital. In addition to her two Olympic medals, she also has a World Championships gold.

Becoming an Olympic champion, she told the LA Times, is "goal that keeps me going".

One day, and one viral video, at a time.