Despite vaccination, Redondo Beach volleyball Olympian Taylor Crabb tests positive for COVID-19, withdraws from competition [UPDATED]

Redondo Beach resident Taylor Crabb has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics because of testing positive for COVID-19. Crabb is pictured at the 2017 AVP Hermosa Beach open, which he and partner Jake Gibbs won. Photo by Ray Vidal

by Kevin Cody

Beach volleyball Olympian Taylor Crabb, of Redondo Beach, has already taken home gold from the Tokyo Olympics. But it wasn’t for his monster play on the court. It was for the sacrifice play he made on Thursday to bolster the chances for gold of his partner Jake Gibb.

Crabb tested positive for COVID-19 upon landing in Tokyo a week ago Monday. He was asymptomatic and would have been allowed to play if he tested negative this week. But he and Gibb would have to forfeit Sunday’s game against Italy. And, if Crabb still tested positive next week, Gibb would also have to withdraw from competition because last Thursday was the deadline for Gibbs to pick a new partner.

Rather than jeopardize his teammate’s opportunity to play in the Olympics, Crabb told his alternate Tri Bourne to fly to Tokyo. Crabb and Bourne grew up together in Hawaii.

“Taylor always told me, ‘Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready. And that’s just what I’ve done,” Bourne said in a post on Crabb’s Instagram account.

Crabb wrote on his account, last Thursday, “I want Jake to play in his fourth Olympic Games and I want him to bring home a medal. Tri Bourne, an incredible athlete, and close friend, will be competing alongside Jake and filling my spot on Team USA.”

As of Wednesday, Gibb’s chances of winning his first Olympic medal look promising. On Sunday, he and Bourne defeated Italy in two tight matches, 21-18 and 21-19. On Monday they won another tight match, against Switzerland, 21-19 and 23-21. On Friday they face Qatar

If they win that match, they advance to the round of 16.

Crabb moved to Redondo Beach five years ago when he teamed up with Gibb. The two qualified for the 2020 Olympics, but then had to requalify this year when the 2020 Olympics were postponed because of the pandemic.

In a phone interview from Tokyo on Saturday, Crabb said he takes some consolutation in Bourne taking his place. 

“Our parents knew one another before we were born. They were members of the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki. Tri and I grew up together playing beach and indoor volleyball on the Outrigger Club teams.

“Other than that, Getting COVID  sucks. Jake and I are best friends. We spent more time together over the past five years than we spent with our families. He’s 45 and wanted to go out on top this year. I wanted to be there with him. But it’s out of my control.”

Crabb, who is 29, said he has no idea how he contracted COVID-19.

“I took the right steps. I was vaccinated in April. I masked and social distanced. During the two weeks prior to leaving for Tokyo, I saw maybe three people,” he said

He said on the flight to Tokyo the only unusual symptom he had was a stuffy nose, which went 

away the following day.

After a saliva test at the airport came back positive, Crabb was taken to a temporary hospital in the Olympic Village, and then to a hotel with sealed windows.

He is required to remain there for 10 days, and then will be required to return home, on Thursday, July 29.

Crabb said he and Gibb will team up again for the AVP tour. The tour resumes with the Atlanta Open, the weekend of Aug. 13; followed by the Manhattan Beach Open, the weekend of Aug. 20; and the Chicago Open, the weekend of Sept. 3.

Crabb’s decision to ensure his partner Gibb is not also forced to withdraw from Olympics has been widely praised by fellow athletes.

“You’re an Olympian in everyone’s eyes,” Alix Klineman, of Manhattan Beach, commented on Crabb’s Instagram post. Klineman and partner April Ross are representing the U.S. in Tokyo in women’s beach volleyball.

Klineman and Ross defeated China 21-17 and 21-19 on Sunday; defeated Spain on Tuesday, 21-13 and 21-16; and defeated the Netherlands on Thursday, to advance to the Round of 16.

The second U.S. women’s beach volleyball team, Kelly Klaes, of Hermosa Beach, and Sarah Sponcil defeated Latvia on Tuesday, in three sets, 21-13, 16-21, and 15-11; and Kenya on Thursday in two sets. ER

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