Tokyo Games the end line for American veteran Gibb
HUNTINGTON BEACH, USA, June 1, 2020 – Jake Gibb has been playing
beach volleyball for the last 20 years and after two decades of
intense dedication to the sport and countless trips around the
world, the 44-year-old American has made a decision: he will end
his career in 2021.
The veteran blocker had initially planned to make 2020 his
farewell season, but with the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics
to 2021, he has decided to keep going for another year as he and
partner Taylor Crabb remain in contention for a spot in the next
edition of the Games.
And he's certainly not sad about extending his career for
“I have a fixed date, I’m done after 2021,” he revealed in an
interview to American website VolleyballMag. “I was going to be
done after this year, but now I’m going to play one more year. I
can’t just leave Taylor high and dry. And I get to play in the
sport I love for one more year.”
The postponement of the Olympics was caused due to the
coronavirus pandemic, the same reason that forced Gibb and Crabb
to stay home during what was arguably the best moment of their
partnership, which was formed in 2017.
Before the break, the Americans had secured top-10 finishes in
ten of their last 12 FIVB World Tour events and had won their
first gold medal as a team at the four-star tournament in
Chetumal, Mexico, in November, when Gibb became the oldest
player to top the podium in an international event.
“It’s a bummer to take a break when you feel you’re peaking as a
partnership,” he added. “I think we played good volleyball all
year, we just weren’t getting the finishes, losing some
heartbreak matches. I knew it was in us, and we had been playing
well, but it’s nice to see the finishes represent how you think
you’re playing. At the end of last season I didn’t want that to
end, we were grooving, and I felt like we started this year
really well as a team.”
There is, however, the counterpoint that Gibb’s body could
probably use a break in the year that precedes the last and
potentially most important season of his long career.
If, however, that includes not playing beach volleyball, then
there’s no real benefit from Gibb’s standpoint.
“I’ve heard from several people that it might be an advantage
for me, not putting the mileage on my body,” he commented. “I
feel great, but I miss playing volleyball. I like playing every
week, so I don’t think there’s an advantage there. I really like
just playing volleyball. I’d like nothing more than to have 20
tournaments a year and play almost every week.”
Currently ranked eighth in the provisional Olympic ranking with
Crabb, Gibb is aiming for his fourth Olympic appearance next
year in Tokyo. The blocker, who finished fifth with Sean
Rosenthal at both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games and was
19th in Rio 2016 with Casey Patterson, could become the first
American to play in four editions of the Games.
If he qualifies, Gibb, who will be 45 when the Olympic
tournament starts next year, will become the oldest beach
volleyball player to ever compete at the Games.
The potential records, however, don't carry the weight of
another vital element of his life when it’s about bringing him
motivation to be in Tokyo next summer, however.
“My family has always been my priority number one,” the veteran
reflected. “Even my wife (Jane) now, she doesn’t want to miss
any tournaments I’m playing in, because we both know that it’s
going to be over pretty soon, and she just loves watching it and
being a part of it as well. And interestingly enough, my son
(Crosby) now loves watching my matches on TV. He’s 8 years old,
but he knows enough. He kind of understands the game now, he
really loves watching, and it’s been fun. That’s one of the
biggest motivations for me to get to the next Olympics, to have
my son see me play in an Olympics and actually understand that
it’s pretty cool.”