Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh Win Beach Volleyball Gold

Aug 8, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Kerri Walsh (right) crys on the podium alongside Misty May-Treanor (left) after winning the gold medal defeating April Ross and Jennifer Kessy (USA) in the women's beach volleyball gold medal match during the 2012 London Olympic Games at Horse Guards Parade. Walsh and May-Treanor win their third consecutive gold medal in as many Olympic games. Mandatory Credit: Chris Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh won their third consecutive Olympic gold medal Wednesday, earning them the distinction of being the darlings, if not rock stars of these summer games.

They are a duo that may have solidified themselves as the darling of the last three Summer Olympics.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Women's Beach Volleyball pair of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh defeated fellow Americans Jennifer Kessy and April Ross to win the gold medal in beach volleyball -- their third gold medal in as many Olympics.

May-Treanor and Walsh won in straight sets, 21-16, 21-16, also extending their Olympic-match unbeaten streak to 21 (losing only a single set in the process), dating back to the 2004 games in Athens.

"It's insane. It doesn't feel like it's real," Walsh told the media following the win.

May-Treanor has already announced that she will retire from Olympic competition, making her one of the most dominating female athletes in history, an athlete who never tasted defeat in three Olympic appearances.

Competitors today, but part of the United States faction of athletes, Kessy and Ross -- appearing in their first Olympics and now heavy favorites to challenge for gold in 2016 -- celebrated with the 2012 gold medal winners following the podium ceremony. In awe of their beach volleyball brethren, Ross was quite candid post-match after falling to May-Treanor and Walsh.

"Kudos. Hats off to them," she told the media. "That's just ridiculous."

"They're the best team of all time," Kessy added.

While NBC has always given ample primtetime coverage to swimming, track and field and gymnastics, beach volleyball has earned top billing in the television programming hierarchy as of late and it's been predicated on the growing popularity and success of May-Treanor and Walsh.

A sport first introduced to the Olympics in 1996, beach volleyball has morphed into a highly sought after ticket and talked-about event for more than just the young demographic, and we all have May-Treanor and Walsh to thank.

They've taken the event to "don't spoil the results to me" levels, establishing a high bar for Team USA to reach in future Summer Olympics.

For more on the Olympics, check out SB Nation's London 2012 Olympics hub. For more on Olympic beach volleyball, follow the 2012 Olympic beach volleyball section.

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