Utah’s Jake Gibb Sets Sights on Gold in 4th and Final Olympic Games

Jul 30, 2021, 12:03 AM

After two decades of traveling the world and playing the sport he loves, Bountiful native Jake Gibb says he is ready to move on with his life.

At 45 years old Gibb takes the court in Tokyo as the oldest beach volleyball player in Olympic history. This will be his 4th Olympic games and he has spent the past five years dedicated to training. Now his focus is shifting solely toward home and what he’s most proud of, being a dad.

Gibb and his wife Jane have two children, nine year old Crosby, and six year old Cora.

Born in the Beehive State, Gibb now lives in California and it is his love for Utah that let Olympic Specialist Shara Park get a glimpse inside his home life.

“You know, whenever Utah is brought up, it’s just my home,” Gibb said. “It just is, it’s my people. I love everything about it, I love the energy there.”

Gibb attended the University of Utah and before volleyball, he considered becoming a doctor like his father.

“I was premed,” Gibb said. “My first couple years in college, but mostly that was just so I could tell the girls that I was premed. I went and I got a phlebotomist job at University of…wait… at what’s the hospital right above? And, yeah, yeah. And my first day we went, and we were drawing blood, and she was just showing me how to do it. And I was like, Oh, boy, this isn’t going good. I’m getting lightheaded. And then I do the old like, I got to tie my shoe trick, which I’m sure they’ve seen a million times. And they’re like, Oh, this guy’s not getting blood at all. So needless to say, that wasn’t my future.”

As if destined to play volleyball, Gibb’s middle name is Spiker, his mother’s maiden name, and he married a volleyball player from Dixie State University.

“So we had one moment where we were competing, we were playing together,” Gibb said. “And I was kind of used to playing volleyball with guys. And a ball went over my head, and I was yelling at her to go, I was just like, go, go, go. And I turned around. And I remember she looked up at me and just started crying. And I was like, Oh, this is different animal. I’m not sure how to handle this. Sorry. Sorry.”

The Gibb family moved to California so Jake could chase his dream of playing beach volleyball and they’ve traveled the world as a family.

As Gibb competes in his final Olympic games, he recalls the first match he ever played as his favorite Olympic moment.

“We played against the Dutch. It was just, it was just unique. You know, I didn’t know what to expect. It started. It started raining harder than like any rain. Not only that I’ve ever played in but that I’ve ever been in in my life. It was raining that hard. Any other tournament would have been canceled. It was just raining that hard. There was lightning strike. I mean, it was crazy. But it’s the Olympics. The games go on. And we’re like, you know, we’re out there an hour before just train. We’re like, going as hard. It didn’t matter, right? Because it was this Olympic energy. And then walking out into the stadium for the very first time. Like even right now. I just got chills. But it was just the coolest energy. I was like, Oh, this is what the Olympics is about. This is something really, really cool. So yeah, that’s for sure. My favorite memory.”

Gibb says he knows Tokyo will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge he is ready to take on one last time.

‘To take that challenge on again was scary, it just is,” Gibb said. “And to take that journey on again I said I was going to take pride in this Olympic journey.”

Regardless of the outcome, his family is behind him all the way.

“We’re so proud,” Jane Gibb said. “Like, this has been such a fun journey. And like, I see him day in and day out, like what he puts in, the discipline. Like, his food has everything. It’s kind of amazing. Like that discipline is amazing. And so I think just that like, it’s like so fun. Like, we’re so excited. And yeah, I think just that we’re proud and like we can’t wait to watch.”

Gibb is also a two-time cancer survivor and says he wants to focus on being a dad and possibly starting a beach volleyball club program for kids.

Tokyo marks the beginning of the end for Utah’s beach volleyball legend.

“Listen, I’m 45,” Gibb said. “There are aches and pains. I’ll play the rest of the professional season and then I’m done. Like done, done, done. There’s no going back. I’m done.”

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Utah’s Jake Gibb Sets Sights on Gold in 4th and Final Olympic Games