Road to Rio Review - Olympic Athletes Head to Venice Beach for Final Stop of Team USA’s Tour Across the Nation

This past weekend, Venice Beach hosted Team USA for the last stop on the Road to Rio tour, presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance signifying that it’s really happening folks - the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is on its way to a TV near you.

 

Several olympic athletes were on the beach this weekend, including gold medalists Janet Evans (swimming), Misty May-Treanor (beach volleyball), Kerri Walsh Jennings (beach volleyball), and her partner on the court April Ross (beach volleyball), Phil Dalhausser (beach volleyball) and his partner, Nick Lucena (beach volleyball).  

Team USA’s Nick Lucena (L) and Phil Dalhausser (R) signing pictures for fans

 

Fans were able to get memorabilia signed by the athletes, and take pictures and post on social media for a swag bag or other prizes.  The olympic athletes however were far from the only attractions for this event.  There were also plenty of activities to take part in for the fans, from air conditioned trailers to take a break from the 85 degree heat holding Olympic history in the forms of olympic medals, information about the athletes, video footage of past wins, and clothing and equipment donned by Olympic athletes.

Atlanta 1996 Centennial Olympic Games Prize Medals designed by Guisseppe Cassioli and Malcolm Grea

 

In addition to the trailers and chance to meet Team USA, there were also other attractions such as a zip line adjacent to a main stage which held live musical performances, and a simulated long jump where you were able to get a picture of you jumping on an Olympic background.

 

The long jump attraction present at the event

 

LA Splash was able to get a chance to speak with Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena about this particular tour and the upcoming Olympic Games.

 

LA Splash: Good afternoon you guys! Can you share with our readers what excites you most about going down to Rio and representing the US in beach volleyball this time around?

 

Dalhausser: Winning a gold medal. 

 

Lucena: (laughs) That says it all. That and playing at Copacabana, beach volleyball is pretty big in Brazil -it’s probably one of the biggest sports.  Being there and playing in front of the fans will be pretty exciting.

 

Are you ready for that audience?

 

Lucena: Oh yeah.

 

Dalhausser: Yeah. We’ve played there before but obviously not on this level.

 

Venice is the last stop on the Road to Rio. What do you enjoy the most about being in LA?

 

Lucena: I’m a big fan of the weather in Southern California in general.  It’s a perfect beach day every day.  I enjoy that. Phil on the other hand…

 

Dalhausser: This is the only spot on the tour where we are on the beach.  The whole Road to Rio tour is pretty cool, I had no clue what to expect coming here and it’s a pretty big production.  

 

Venice Beach set the stage for the last stop of the Team USA Road to Rio Tour, an interactive tour connecting Olympic athletes to fans this past weekend

A lot of fans came out to see you guys today, to wish you both well.  What have you guys learned about working together on and off for the past few years as a team?

 

Lucena: I’ve learned just to smile and nod and let him answer all the questions… We’ve been playing the sport for so long though, this is our 13th year and we’re old people when it comes to this sport so we’re using our experience now to get by and beat up on these young guys.

 

 

Do you have anything else to say to the fans out there - perhaps the ones who couldn’t come out here and make it to see you both?

 

Lucena: Watch us in Rio, support us and hopefully, we’ll come back with the gold.

 

Graffiti artist Jesmie with STP creating art to represent Team USA’s arrival in Venice

 

 

April Ross was also able to speak with us about what she’s doing to prepare herself to perform at Rio and, having won silver in the 2012 London Olympic Games, go for gold in 2016.

 

LA Splash: First and foremost, what excites you the most about the Rio Olympic Games?

 

Ross: The thing that excites me the most is that it’s my second time (appearing in the Olympic Games) and I can use what I’ve learned during my last olympic performance. I think I’ve grown a lot as a player in the last four years and I have a new partner. I just want to improve upon the last time and just lay it all out there and see what this last 4 years has done for me as an athlete and done for Kerri and I as a team.

 

Anything about Rio in particular that you’re looking forward to checking out?

 

Ross: We’ve competed in Rio pretty frequently, so last time we were there we did all the sightseeing stuff like going to the Jesus Cristo statue up top. So when I go there this time, I want to see what the USOC brings down for Team USA - they always do it up so well there’s going to be the USA house, P & G House, the Village… To experience Rio at the Olympics is what’s going to be cool.

 

I heard somewhere that this was your first time in Venice?

 

Ross: Yes! I’ve been really close though, but I’ve never been out onto the beach.

 

What’s striking you about it?

 

Road to Rio

Ross: People can come out here and express themselves.  It’s the ultimate artistic expression, it’s what Venice is known for.  I love the painting they’re doing over there that the USOC graffiti artists are doing. I love the diversity, how many people are out here, and the fire and excitement is pretty rad.

 

Anything last words for the fans?

 

Ross: I appreciate all the support that they’ve given me over the years.  Send all your positive vibes down to Rio for us!

 

 **Photos Courtesy of Jasmine Hall** 

 

 

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