Gold, silver and bronze for Latvian athletes

With the silver medal won Sept. 29 by 50-kilometer walk competitor Aigars Fadejevs, Latvia now has a full complement of Olympic honors, including its first gold medal ever under the independent Latvian flag.

Latvia’s Modris Liepiņš also put in a respectable performance, finishing ninth in the event.

Surprise! It’s a gold medal!

Few of his competitors probably expected 22-year-old Igors Vihrovs would be a contender in the floor exercise event. But the Latvian gymnast surprised his fellow athletes and spectators alike Sept. 24 by winning the event and earning Latvia’s first gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Vihrovs earned a score of 9.812, just ahead of the 9.800 recorded for silver medalist Alexei Nemov of Russia. The bronze medal went to Bulgaria’s Iordan Iovtchev, who scored 9.787.

The Latvian gymnast’s victory was perhaps most surprising to Nemov—one of the world’s top all-around gymnasts—who had finished first in the qualifying round with a score of 58.361. Vihrovs was far behind in 26th place with a score of 56.186.

In 73-kilogram men’s judo competition, Vsevolods Zeļonijs, a 27-year-old athlete from Rīga, on Sept. 18 won Latvia’s first medal—a bronze—in this year’s Olympics. He shared third place with Anatoly Laryukov of Belarus. Zeļonijs beat Yong-Sin Choi of Korea in a match lasting 53 seconds.

Estonia, Lithuania also earn gold

Estonia won one gold medal and two bronze medals.

Erki Nool won the gold in the men’s decathlon despite a brief controversy over his performance in the discus. His three throws in the event were initially ruled fouls, but were later reinstated.

Two bronze medals were garnered by Estonia in judo. Indrek Pertelson earned one in men’s heavyweight (+100-kilogram) judo competition, while Aleksei Budolin won one in the men’s half-middleweight (81-kilogram) event.

Lithuania, meanwhile, won two gold and two bronze medals.

One gold was earned thanks to Daina Gudzineviciute’s record-making performance in women’s trap shooting. The other was won by Virgilijus Alekna in the men’s discus throw.

One bronze medal was earned by Diana Ziliute in the women’s cycling road race. Lithuania also has a bronze medal in rowing. Birute Sakickiene and Kristina Poplavskaja earned their reward in the women’s double sculls event.

An embarassment in rowing

Latvian rowing fans almost had someone to watch in the much-touted medal rounds on Saturday and Sunday. Andris Reinholds of Latvia ended up in eighth place overall, finishing second in the B Group finals in rowing’s single sculls event. Reinholds, a 29-year-old builder and engineer from Rīga, performed well throughout the several phases of sculls competition. In his finals race, he was ahead of his four challengers until halfway through the race when the Netherlands’ Gerard Egelmeers pulled ahead to finish first in a time of 6:55.29. Just over a second later, Reinholds nabbed second place in a time of 6:56.33.

But then, according to a Sept. 23 Reuters story posted on the Olympics’ official Web site, Reinholds tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. He was disqualified from the single sculls event. Reinholds was the fourth athlete to fail a drug test during these Olympics, according to the story.

Reinholds has appealed the test results and the Olympic committee’s decision to disqualify him, according to Baltic News Service. No decision on the appeal had been issued by Sept. 27.

Swimmers from Latvia had a tough time, with no athlete advancing beyond qualifying heats. However, on dry land, Jeļena Čelnova-Prokopčuka in the 5,000-meter run and 10,000-meter runs advanced to finals. Canoeist Jefimijs Klementjevs paddled his way to the finals and finished seventh overall.

One of the largest Latvian contingents participated in this year’s Summer Olympics. The games were scheduled Sept. 15 to Oct. 1. A total of 45 athletes, three fewer than in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, make up the Latvian team.

Latvian athletes first competed in the Summer Olympics in 1912. During the last summer games, Ivans Klementjevs won a silver medal in the canoe event.

The Latvian athletes this year had incentive to work hard at winning a medal. Bringing home the gold will translate into a government award of LVL 100,000, according to a Baltic News Service report. A silver medal will be worth LVL 50,000 and a bronze, LVL 30,000.

Latvian hockey jerseys became quite popular after the national team’s victory over the Russian team earlier this year in St. Petersburg. Sports fans interested in Olympic souvenirs might have to turn their attention to the Bank of Latvia and the Latvian Post Office.

The central bank has issued two commemorative coins marking the 2000 games. A one-lat silver coin honors cycling, while a 10-lat gold coin honors the javelin event. Both coins were minted in Switzerland.

The post office, meanwhile, was scheduled to release a commemorative Olympics stamp on Sept. 2.

Athletes and results

Athletics (Track and field): Uģis Brūvelis, Jeļena Čelnova-Prokopčuka, Jolanta Dukure, Aigars Fadejevs, Valentīna Gotovska, Līga Kļaviņa, Inga Kožarenoka, Viktors Lācis, Irina Latve, Anita Liepiņa, Modris Liepiņš, Voldemārs Lūsis, Staņislavs Olijars, Māris Putenis, Ēriks Rags, Anita Trumpe and Irēna Žauna.

  • Men’s 20-kilometer walk: With a total time of 1:22:43, Fadejevs finished 14th out of a field of 48 competitors. Putenis was disqualified. The gold medal in the event went to Robert Korzeniowski of Poland, who finished in 1:18:59.
  • Men’s 50-kilometer walk: Fadejevs won the silver medal by finishing second with a time of 3:43:40. Robert Korzeniowski of Poland won the gold with a time of 3:42:22. Liepiņš placed ninth with a time of 3:48:36, while Brūvelis was 35th with a time of 4:11:41.
  • Men’s 110-meter hurdles: Olijars qualified for the second round by finishing second in his first heat in a time of 13.56. He advanced from the second round to the semi-finals by coming in third in his heat with a time of 13.34. In the semi-finals, Olijars finished sixth in his heat with a time of 13.50 and did not advance to the finals.
  • Men’s 800-meter run: Lācis finished third in his first heat in a time of 1:46.94 and has qualified for Race 3 of the semi-finals. But in the semi-finals, Lācis finished sixth in his race in a time of 1:47.24, failing to advance to the finals.
  • Men’s javelin throw: Rags’ best throw in his qualifying round was 75.75, placing him 12th, not enough to advance to the next round. A similar result was recorded by Lūsis, whose best throw of 80.08 placed him 11th in his qualifying round, also not far enough to advance.
  • Women’s 20-kilometer walk: In the finals of the event, Dukure finished 30th in a time of 1:36:54, while Liepiņa came in 37th in a time of 1:39:17. The gold medal went to China’s Liping Wang, who finished in 1:29:05.
  • Women’s 100-meter hurdles: In her qualifying heat, Trumpe finished seventh in a time of 13.77, not advancing to the next round.
  • Women’s 400-meter hurdles: In the first round, Žauna came in fifth in her heat in a time of 57.79 and did not qualify for the second round.
  • Women’s 800-meter run: Latve finished sixth in her qualifying round with a time of 2:06.05, not fast enough to advance to the next phase.
  • Women’s 5,000-meter run: In her first heat, Čelnova-Prokopčuka finished fourth with a time of 15:09.45, advancing to the finals. And in the finals, Celnova-Prokopcuka finished ninth in a time of 14:55.46. The gold medal went to Gabriela Szabo of Romania, who finished in 14:40.79, a new Olympic record.
  • Women’s 10,000-meter run: Čelnova-Prokopčuka advanced to the finals by placing eighth in Round 1, finishing in a time of 32:32.87. She was 26.68 seconds behind the leader, Ethiopia’s Derartu Tulu. In the finals, Čelnova-Prokopčuka finished 19th in a time of 32:17.72. The gold medal went to Tulu.
  • Women’s high jump: Kļaviņa had no mark in the qualifying round. She did not advance.
  • Women’s javelin throw: Kožarenoka’s best throw of 53.83 meters was not far enough to qualify her to advance in the competition.
  • Women’s long jump: In her qualifying round, Gotovska’s best jump was 6.47 meters, placing her 10th. She did not advance in the competition.

Canoe: Jefimijs Klementjevs.

  • Men’s 1,000-meter sprint: Klementjevs finished in fourth place in his qualifying heat with a time of 3:58.840. He advanced to the semi-finals, where he finished second in his run in a time of 4:01.300. In the finals, Klementjevs finished seventh in a time of 4:00.931. The gold medal went to Andreas Dittmer of Germany, who finished the race in 3:54.379.

Cycling: Raivis Belohvoščiks, Viesturs Bērziņš, Ainārs Ķiksis, Ivo Lakučs, Gvido Miezis, Andris Naudužs, Dainis Ozols, Arvis Piziks and Andris Reiss.

  • Men’s 1-kilometer time trial: Miezis finishes 16th in the event with a total time of 1:08.113. The gold medal went to Jason Queally of Great Britain, who finishes with a total time of 1:01.609.
  • Men’s individual time trial: Belohvoščiks finished 15th, 2:17 behind gold medal winner Viacheslav Ekimov of Russia, who finished with a time of 57:40. Ozols was 21st, 3:06 behind the leader.
  • Men’s Olympic sprint: The team of Bērziņš, Ķiksis and Lakučs failed to advance beyond the first round after being bested by the Australian team of Sean Eadie, Darryn Hill and Gary Neiwand. The Latvians’ overall time was 46.525, but the Australians finished in 44.745.
  • Men’s road cycling road race: Piziks finished 22nd, 1:38 behind the winner and gold medalist, Jan Ullrich of Germany, who finished in a time of 5:29:08. Reiss came in 81st, 12:53 behind the leader. Belohvoščiks, Naudušz and Ozols did not finish.
  • Men’s sprint: Bērziņš finished 10th overall. The gold medal in the competition went to Marty Nothstein of the United States, whose times in the final were 10.874 and 11.066.
  • Men’s track keirin: Ķiksis finished first, in a time of 11.210, in the repechage round. In the second round, he finished sixth and did not advance to the finals.

Fencing: Jūlija Vansoviča.

  • Women’s individual epée: One of the world’s top women fencer’s, Hungary’s Gyongyi Szalay, was ousted 15-13 in Round 2 by 30th seed Vansoviča, reported the Olympic News Service. However, another Hungarian, Timea Nagy, exacted revenge in Round 3, beating Vansoviča 15-10. Nagy was the eventual gold medal winner in the event.

Gymnastics: Igors Vihrovs.

  • Men’s floor exercise: Vihrovs, in a surprise finish, won the gold medal with a score of 9.812. The silver medal was won by Russia’s Alexei Nemov, who scored 9.800, while the bronze went to Bulgaria’s Iordan Iovtchev, who scored 9.787. In the qualifying subdivision Vihrovs had placed 26th with a score of 56.186, enough to advance him to the next phase.

Judo: Vsevolods Zeļonijs.

  • Men’s 73-kilogram lightweight: Zeļonijs beat Yong-Sin Choi of Korea in 53 seconds to win the bronze medal in the competition, sharing third place with Anatoly Laryukov of Belarus. The silver went to Tiago Camilo of Brazil, while the gold medal was awarded to Giuseppe Maddaloni of Italy.

Modern pentathalon: Deniss Čerkovskis and Jeļena Rubļevska.

  • Men: Čerkovskis finished 18th with a total score of 4,903. The medalists in the event were all Eastern Europeans: Russia’s Dmitry Svatkovsky took the gold; Gabor Balogh of Hungary, the silver; and Pavel Dovgal of Belarus, the bronze.
  • Women: Rubļevska finished in eighth place with a total score of 5,051. The gold medal went to Stephanie Cook of Great Britain. She had 5,318 total points.

Rowing: Andris Reinholds.

  • Men’s single sculls: Reinholds advanced to the B Group finals, finishing second in the race with a time of 6:56.33 and earning eighth place overall in the event. However, he tested positive for use of steroids, according to a Sept. 23 Reuters report.

Sailing: Žaklīna Litauniece and Vita Matīse.

  • Europe fleet: Litauniece finished in 27th place with 218 net points. The gold medal went to Great Britain’s Shirley Robertson, who had 37 net points.
  • Mistral fleet: Matise finished in 22nd place with 170 net points. The gold medal went to Alessandra Sensini of Italy, who had 15 net points.

Shooting: Afanasijs Kuzmins and Boriss Timofejevs.

  • 25-meter RF pistol: Kuzmins finished in eighth place in the finals, with a qualifying score of 585.0, a finals score of 96.3, and a total score of 681.3. The gold medal in the event went to Serguei Alifirenko of Russia, who had a qualifying score of 587.0, a finals score of 100.6, and a total score of 687.6.
  • Skeet: Timofejevs scored 122.0 and earned 12th place, but did not advance to the finals.

Swimming: Artūrs Jakovļevs, Margarita Kalmikova, Valerijs Kalmikovs and Agnese Ozoliņa.

  • Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: In Heat 4, Kalmikovs tied for first with Puerto Rico’s Arsenio Lopez Rosario in a time of 1:04.02. That put them 34th overall in the heats, not good enough to move to the semi-finals.
  • Men’s 100-meter butterfly:  Jakovļevs finished fourth in his qualifying heat with a time of 56.63, but that was not fast enough to advance to the next phase of competition.
  • Men’s 200-meter breaststroke: Kalmikovs finished third in his heat in a time of 2:16.21. but does not advance to the next phase.
  • Men’s 200-meter individual medley: In his qualifying heat, Kalmikovs finished second in 2:04.18, but did not advance to the semi-finals.
  • Women’s 50-meter freestyle: Ozoliņa finished second in her heat with a time of 27.28, but that was not fast enough to qualify in the event.
  • Women’s 100-meter freestyle: Ozoliņa finished last in her heat with a time of 59.28. She did not qualify to advance to the semi-finals.
  • Women’s 200-meter breaststroke: In her qualifying heat, Kalmikova came in fourth with a time of 2:35.69, too slow to advance to the semi-finals.

Weightlifting: Raimonds Bergmanis, Sergejs Lazovskis and Viktors Ščerbatihs.

  • 94-kilogram: Lazovskis finished in 18th place with a snatch score of 155.0, a clean and jerk score of 200.0, and a total score of 355.0. The gold medal in the event went to Akakios Kakiasvilis of Greece, who had a total score of 405.0.
  • 105+ kilogram: Ščerbatihs finished in seventh place with a snatch score of 202.5, a clean and jerk score of 250.0, and a total score of 452.5. The gold medal in the event went to Hossein Rezazadeh of Iran, who had a total score of 472.5, a new world record. Bergmanis did not compete.

Wrestling: Igors Samušonoks.

  • 85-kilogram: Samusoņoks was defeated 3-2 by Canada’s Justin Abdou and shut out 3-0 by Cuba’s Yoel Romero. Samusoņoks defeated Kazakhstan’s Magomed Kurugliyev 7-6.

(Editor’s note: Information for this article was compiled from various media sources. This article originally on

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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