A recent news story about how bikinis may no longer be the official uniform for women’s beach volleyball motivated me to look at what the present costume is. That’s how I bumped into Kerri Lee Walsh-Jennings who with teammate Misty May-Treanor were the gold medalists in beach volleyball at both the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. They have been called “the greatest beach volleyball team of all time.”

Of course I picked this picture, because it’s so rare to see women with abs.

In this photo by Jamie Squire: Kerri Walsh (left) and Misty May-Treanor celebrate during the women’s gold medal match against China during Day 13 of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

And for those the least bit curious, here are excerpts from the AP news story I mentioned:

Under new rules adopted by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), players are now free to wear shorts and sleeved tops. The governing body said the move was made out of respect for the cultural beliefs of some of the countries still in contention to qualify for the games.

But top players say they won’t be switching from the beach- and TV-friendly bikinis to the more modest uniforms approved recently by the International Volleyball Federation as a nod to countries where more modest attire is preferred.

“It’s something I really feel comfortable with,” said Kerri Walsh, who with Misty May-Treanor won the gold medal in Athens and Beijing while wearing the standard beach volleyball uniform: a two-piece bathing suit. “It’s something I feel empowered by, not distracted with. I’m not a sex symbol; I’m an athlete. I want to be streamlined out there.”

Bikinis are a natural for a sand-based sport, and they’ve been the standard Olympic uniform since beach volleyball became an official event at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Players say they prefer the beachwear because it allows them freer movement, and the minimum of material leaves less room for sand to get into their clothing and cause chafing.

It doesn’t hurt the TV audiences, either, as television producers zoom in for close-ups of the women signaling to each other by holding up their fingers against their behinds.

Walsh said she’ll stick to the bikini. Still, she applauded the change.

“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “I don’t want anything as trivial as a uniform to keep anyone from chasing their dreams.”

The new rule will allow women to wear shorts that stop a little more than an inch above the knee, along with a sleeved or sleeveless top — similar to the uniforms for indoor volleyball players. The rule has already been in effect at five Continental Cup qualifying competitions involving 142 nations.”