LONDON – When temperatures dropped into the 60s for start of the first night session at Horse Guards Parade, many of the Olympic beach volleyball players said bye-bye to their bikinis.
Two-time defending gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor of the United States wore long-sleeved shirts on top of bikini bottoms for their 21-18, 21-19 victory over Natalie Cook and Tasmin Hinchley, a match that started at 11 p.m. Saturday when the temperature was 63 degrees. The Australians wore long pants, with T-shirts under their bikini tops.
“It’s cold,” Walsh Jennings said, with a “what do you expect” look on her face. “It’s 11 p.m. in London.”
The two-piece swimsuit is the standard attire in the sport – players say more material means more chafing from sand underneath – but the international tour has long allowed women to wear warmer clothes when the temperature drops. The FIVB changed an unrelated rule recently to also allow shorts and T-shirts for women whose cultural beliefs require them to cover up.
But TV viewers – and the British tabloids – seem to take the notion of more modest clothing as an affront.
All four players in the match said they had never played so late at night.
“I was worried,” Walsh Jennings said. “At home, it hits 11 and I’m a zombie.”