The beach volleyball champ celebrates her 30th birthday with the hope of Olympic gold

By Cynthia Wang
August 16, 2008 06:00 PM
courtesy Ketchum Sports Network

So what does an Olympic champion wish for on her birthday – just ask beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh, who celebrated turning the big 3-0 in Beijing.

Walsh, who along with partner Misty May-Treanor is a defending Olympic champion in beach volleyball, celebrated her birthday with 80 friends and family Saturday night in Beijing and, before cutting her cake, rhetorically asked, Hmm. What should I wish for?

It s got to be gold, Walsh told PEOPLE after a toast. We want to win a gold medal by beating the best in the world.

But first, Walsh and May have to face a new tough Brazilian team. I ve been focusing all day and watching a lot of video and practicing, Walsh says. We play tomorrow morning at 10 and I m ready. So we re going to wake up really early and let our bodies adjust and our minds get in that mindset to go kick butt.

One of her favorite gifts is the presence of her husband, professional volleyball player Casey Jennings. He gave me this cute little heart ring for my birthday, she says, showing off a delicate thin gold ring on her pinky.

It was an appropriate gift – Walsh lost her wedding ring in the middle of her and May-Treanor s match against Japan on Sunday before a volunteer in a search party helped to recover it. When I realized that I had lost it, I shed a tear, says Walsh, From now on, I m going to wear a bandage over it!

Another gift came from her sponsor, the computer company Lenovo, which also threw the birthday bash for Walsh. They gave 10 PCs to kids, she says. That is so priceless. It s the best. It s helping me give back, which is selfish of me because it makes me feel so good!”