It was one of the last matches on a Thursday packed with exciting encounters at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals in Cagliari. Naturally, locals at the venue were rooting for the Italian team. And after a hard-fought three-set duel, Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo claimed victory... Then it hit everyone. This was it, this WAS Jake Gibb's last match, the last match in the career of a beach volleyball legend...
Jake Gibb: It’s hard because I love this sport
“It’s a happy moment, honestly!” legendary American gets emotional after his last professional match
Published 09:18, 08 Oct 2021
All of a sudden, the applause changed direction. Everyone was saluting not the match winners, but the losers. Nicolai and Lupo themselves took hold of Gibb’s hands and lifted them in respect and appreciation of what the 45-year-old four-time Olympian has given to the sport.
Defeat meant that Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb would not advance to the next stage of the tournament in Sardinia, the last competition in Gibb’s professional career as a beach volleyballer.
I’ve played for over 20 years. For all the volleyball fans out there, for all my friends, family and everyone that supported me – I love you! It’s hard for me because I love this sport. I have always loved this sport! That’s the hardest thing - it’s to leave... Because I love it. I love what I do. But I’ve got to go home to my family and be with my kids, and I’m a happy man. I am very happy for where I am and I am happy for what the sport has given me. So thank you very much! It’s a happy moment, honestly! Much love to everybody! Jake Gibb
Gibb got into beach volleyball when he was 21 years old. He started playing on USA’s national AVP Tour in 2000 and went international in 2005. In 2012, he and Sean Rosenthal became World Tour season champions. Over his 17 seasons on the Tour, Jake Gibb collected a total of seven gold, eight silver and eight bronze medals. At Gibb’s first two Olympic appearances, at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, he and Rosenthal achieved fifth-place finishes. At Rio 2016, he played with Casey Patterson, but they did not make it past the pool stage.
Gibb qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Games alongside Taylor Crabb, but Crabb’s last-minute positive coronavirus test prevented him from taking part. Tri Bourne was called in to replace Crabb. Despite having no time to train together, Gibb and Bourne reached the eighth finals.
After their last match in Tokyo, Gibb announced his retirement from international beach volleyball, but came back to finish his appreciation tour, as he called it, at the World Tour Finals alongside Crabb. The 29-year-old defender will now have to chase his Olympic dreams with a new partner.
“To be honest, I will miss just having him around... I’ll miss going to practice with him, lifting, working out, being on the road with him...” said Crabb. “We became really close, really good friends, and I am going to miss everything with him.”