LONDON — When Australian Natalie Cook arrived at the beach volleyball venue for her fifth Olympic appearance, she had to walk past a 25-foot statue of two-time defending gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings looming over Horse Guards Parade.

She will see a smaller — but no less imposing — sight on the other side of the net for her first match on Saturday. She'll be facing Walsh Jennings and her partner, Misty May-Treanor.

Cook has appeared in every Olympics since beach volleyball was first recognized as an Olympic sport in Atlanta in 1996. She won the bronze medal with Kerri Ann Pottharst, then the pair took gold in front of the home crowd in Sydney.

Cook will compete in London with Tasmin Hinchley. They finished tied for fifth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.