Arts & Entertainment

Costa Mesa beach volleyball player Jake Gibb goes for the gold in Rio

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06:  Jacob Gibb (playing partner of Sean Rosenthal) of the United States reacts against Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia during the Men's Beach Volleyball a quarterfinal match between the United States and Latvia on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Horse Guards Parade August 6, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Jacob Gibb (playing partner of Sean Rosenthal) of the United States reacts against Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia during the Men's Beach Volleyball a quarterfinal match between the United States and Latvia on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Horse Guards Parade August 6, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

On Saturday, the first official day of competition at the Rio 2016 Olympics, beach volleyball was on the schedule.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited the venue, located on the famous Copacabana Beach, to soak up some digs and spikes. He had plenty of reasons to cheer.

American duo Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson won their opener, beating Qatar in straight sets: 21-16, 21-16. They get a day off before playing Austria on Monday.

Gibb, a two-time Olympian, finished fifth in both the 2008 Games in Beijing and the 2012 Games in London. He and Patterson, a rookie, have been playing together since 2013.

At 40 years old and having survived cancer twice, Gibb, who lives in Costa Mesa, says he is savoring every second of his Rio experience. 

"I appreciate every moment more. I appreciate going out in stadium court with a big crowd, like I go out there and just take it in a little more. And I just love what I do," he tells the Associated Press.

On the women's side, defending champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and her new partner, April Ross, easily won their opening match with a 21-14, 21-13 victory over Australia. It took only 35 minutes.

The first gold medal at the Olympic Games went to an American. Shooter Virginia Thrasher won the women's 10-meter air rifle.


Want to follow Jake Gibb and all the other Southern California athletes competing in the Rio Olympics? We've got you covered with our handy Twitter list.