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Icon Walsh Jennings relishing playing in Rio

American beach volleyball legend Kerri Walsh Jennings is looking forward to playing on Rio's iconic – and natural – Copacabana beach.

Walsh Jennings has had to overcome a fifth a shoulder surgery and a change in partner to reach Rio, but after having made it to Brazil, the 37-year-old won't be put off byis excited about playing on natural sand.

The three-times gold medalist, looking to win a historic fourth consecutive title, is also excited at the prospect of playing into the small hours and in front of vociferous home crowds.

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"It will be my first Olympic experience playing on a natural beach," said Walsh Jennings, who will team up with April Ross in Rio after her Olympic gold-winning partnership with Misty May Treanor ended when the latter retired after London four years ago.

"It’s is what it is and it's going to be an amazing atmosphere playing at midnight and . Playing under the lights. The of the Olympics is so special and I relish it. 

"Playing in Copa is amazing. The energy here, it absolutely elevates players. It will be amazing playing in front of such crazy, passionate fans, something I think we all relish very much."

Ross was on the receiving end of Walsh Jennings and May Treanor's dominance t partnership when she had to settle for silver with Jennifer Kessy in London four years ago.

However, Ross hopes the Copacabana setting will bring their home comforts for the American pair, too.

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"It's awesome to be playing on a natural beach, it's how we practice every day," said Ross.

"It makes it more like we are used to down in California."

Walsh Jennings and Ross face Australian pair Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Nicole Laird in the first of their three group matches at midnight on Saturday.

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