TOKYO (August 2, 2021) – For the second day in a row, a four-time Olympian has played his final international match for the U.S. Beach National Team.
Jake Gibb, who represented the United States in every Olympic Games since 2008 Beijing, and partner Tri Bourne fell 2-1 (17-21, 21-15, 15-11) to Germany’s Julius Thole/Clemens Wickler in Monday’s Round of 16 contest.
“This is the hardest Olympics I’ve ever even …” Gibb said. “I’m sad that Taylor’s not here with me, and I’m proud of Tri for stepping in. That was a journey that we went on together. Props to this guy for stepping into just weird, weird circumstances and playing amazing ball. At the same time, I went through this journey with Taylor. I’m just sad he’s not here with me now.”
The loss ends one of beach volleyball’s biggest stories of the Games. Upon landing in Tokyo, Gibb’s partner for the last four years, Taylor Crabb, tested positive for COVID-19. Bourne stepped in for Crabb, and the new pairing of Gibb and Bourne took second in their pool despite never having played together before the Olympics.
“I just feel lucky,” Bourne said. “I wanted to be respectful because they earned the spot and they’re going through a lot, but they embraced me and gave me the opportunity to do what I love and try to see what I can do on the biggest stage.
“It kinda felt like the beginning for me.”
Conversely, the match marks the end of Gibb’s international career. The 45-year-old from Bountiful, Utah, became the oldest Olympic volleyball player ever in Tokyo. He finished in a tie for fifth at both 2008 Beijing and 2012 London, and he’s a four-time USAV Men’s Beach Player of the Year. Gibb joined the FIVB World Tour in 2005, earning Top Rookie honors.
After Monday’s match, Gibb and Bourne both took their time leaving the court at Shiozake Park.
“I was enjoying the moment, that stadium, the energy,” Gibb said. “I was taking it in one last time. I guess letting it go in a way.”
Against Thole/Wickler, Gibb led all players with 19 total points. He scored 16 on the attack, blocked two shots and served up one ace. Bourne scored 10 points; eight on the attack and two on the serve.
The Germans also used tough serving, particularly from Wickler, to build gaps during the second and third sets. In the second, a Wickler ace established the Germans’ first four-point lead of the frame, which they maintained throughout. In the third, an ace handed Germany a two-point lead at 5-3, a margin the U.S. never erased.
In the first, the U.S. served tough, too. particularly Bourne. From the service line, he sparked a six-point run late for the set win.
One U.S. duo remains in contention for a medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. April Ross and Alix Klineman will play a quarterfinal contest at 5 pm Pacific Monday, August 2. That match will be aired live on NBC.