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Rumor has it that Jake Gibb didn’t play volleyball until he turned 21 years old. Not in middle school, not in high school, not in college. “That’s a bit of a misunderstanding,” Gibb says. “I played for six weeks as a senior in high school. Then I didn’t play again until I was 21.” This doesn’t make Gibb’s ascent through the world of beach volleyball any less remarkable. Aside from six weeks in high school, Gibb has only been playing volleyball for about a decade…and now he’s an Olympian. But it’s not like he’s been just sitting around hoping to qualify. In the past couple of years, Gibb, along with his teammate Sean Rosenthal, has won over half a dozen AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) tournaments and been in twice as many finals. So if there ever was a team ready for the Olympics, it’s them.
SNAPSHOT JAKE GIBB
Birthdate: Feb. 6, 1976
Hometown: Bountiful, Utah
Current Residence: Costa Mesa, CA
College: University of Utah
Partner: Sean Rosenthal
M&F: As an NBA fan, you grew up watching the NBA Dream Team compete. What’s it like to know you’re going to be playing on the same world stage?
Jake Gibb: It’s awesome. And I think we’re staying in the same hotel as the NBA guys, so that’s even better. But as far as volleyball goes, winning a gold medal is the pinnacle of our sport, so that’s what I want.
M&F: We know you like hoops, but are you a fan of any other Olympic sports?
JG: Oh yeah. Growing up, I feel like it was always on in my house. I love it all. The swimming, gymnastics, track…something about the Olympics just gets me going. I’d watch lawn bowling if it was an Olympic sport.
M&F: And now you’re going to be there representing the U.S. Did you do any kind of special training to make sure you qualified?
JG: I did. I put a lot of work in early in the season. I actually overloaded the first few months, making sure that I was working out all the time. Since our goal was to qualify for the Olympics, I even used other tournaments as training. This way I could taper down as we got closer to July for the main qualifiers and ultimately the Olympics.
M&F: The other American team, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers is the No. 1 seed, but you just beat them in Long Beach. Are you thinking about winning the gold?
JG: First off, I don’t really think of Phil and Todd as competitors. They’re the No. 1 seed, but when we’re not playing them, I’m going to be cheering as hard as I can for them. I hope to see them in the finals.
M&F: Aside from your fellow Americans, what other countries are you paying attention to?
JG: We’re in a tough pool. Germany’s good. So are the Netherlands.
M&F: Do you have tape on them to study or do you have to wait to check them out in person in Beijing?
JG: We actually have plenty of video of them playing. We’ll be able to study up on them and be ready when we play.
M&F: And we hope that preparation turns into a gold medal for you guys. Good luck in Beijing.
For more on Jake Gibb and the rest of the USA Beach Volleyball contingent, visit www.usavolleyball.org/beach.
For more information on the AVP, head over to www.avp.com.
For info on other U.S. athletes, go to www.usolympicteam.com.
For Olympic schedules, rosters and start times, visit www.enbeijing2008.cn.
For NBC’s Olympic coverage, head over to www.nbcolympics.com.