Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings on Zika, Retirement and Turning 38 in Rio

The superstar athlete, who got the documentary treatment from Dick's Sporting Goods and Tribeca Digital, tells THR: "Every Olympics has drama and it always feels very heavy and very big, but you show up and it's addressed or you just deal with it."
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Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, husband and professional beach volleyball player Casey Jennings and their children Joseph, Sundance and Scout attend the premiere of 'Kerri Walsh Jennings: Gold Within' at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills on July 28, 2016.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings — recently profiled in the NBC documentary Kerri Walsh Jennings: Gold Within from Dick's Sporting Goods and Tribeca Digital Studios — has arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for beach volleyball competition as part of the 2016 Olympic Games. And she didn't leave home without bug spray.

"I'm certainly traveling with my Honest Bug Spray and I will wear my essential oils and do my part," says Walsh Jennings, referring to product from Jessica Alba's Santa Monica-based company, as concerns on U.S. soil continue to rise. The CDC has just urged pregnant women to avoid traveling to parts of Florida after an additional 10 people have been infected with the Zika virus in the Miami area. "I'm also not going to hang around any standing water and I will use bottled water for everything," says Walsh Jennings.

The superstar athlete — competing with new partner April Ross to snag a fourth gold medal on Team USA, which is made up of a record number of women at 292, compared to 263 men — downplays the concerns but not the stage.

"Every Olympics has drama and it always feels very heavy and very big, but you show up and it's addressed or you just deal with it," she says. While in Rio, Walsh Jennings also will deal with a small birthday celebration — she'll turn 38 on Aug. 15. Even with the intense physical activity, she's not ruling out cake or another Olympics run in four years. "Birthday cake? Are you kidding me? I think happiness and peace of mind are so important in life and you have to celebrate the little things and the big things too," she tells The Hollywood Reporter, minutes before the world premiere of Gold Within on July 28 at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, where she also participated in a post-screening Q&A moderated by Maria Menounos. "And at the next Olympics I will be 42, and that doesn't sound that old to me."

When asked just how committed she was to going for the gold at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Walsh Jennings responded with a huge smile, saying, "I'm 80/20 right now."


From left: Professional beach volleyball player and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, professional beach volleyball player Casey Jennings, director and producer Gabe Spitzer and TV personality Maria Menounos attend the premiere of Kerri Walsh Jennings: Gold Within at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills on July 28, 2016. (Photo by Tasia Wells/FilmMagic)

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