August 07, 2012
A day after Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins stunned the United States in an upset win in the beach volleyball quarter-final, the two were beaten in the semi-finals by the world’s top pair from Brazil. Latvia now plays the Netherlands for the bronze medal on Thursday with the loser taking fourth place. It is worth noting that Plavins and Smedins swept the same Dutch pair 2:0 in the preliminary round. But win or lose, Latvia was in the news. Millions took note and you can’t buy that type of publicity.
Heading into the last four days of competition, the majority of Latvia’s athletes have competed and failed to advance. A number are still competing or coming up and could bring in a medal.
Ineta Radevica advanced to the finals in the women’s long jump being held on Wednesday. She won the bronze at the world championships in 2011 and was the European champion in 2010. The BMXers led by Beijing gold medalist Maris Strombergs kick-off three days of competition starting on Wednesday. Latvia will also be competing in a number of other track and field events, the pentathlon, wrestling and weight lifting.
Among those through, Laura Ikauniece finished 9th in the heptathlon while Polina Jelizarova placed 13th in the 3000m steeplechase. Latvia’s other beach volleyball pair Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Ruslans Sorokins also finished 9th although they were tied with eight other countries who did not get past the round of sixteen.
Viesturs Zariņš lives in Canada and is a periodic contributor to Latvians Online. He was a member of the World Federation of Free Latvians executive board from 1991 through 1999 and a board member of the Latvian National Federation in Canada for 10 years, including three years as its president.