Javelin thrower adds silver to Latvia’s medals

We’ll take one of each, lūdzu. That could have been Latvia’s desire going into the Beijing Olympics, and thanks to men’s javelin thrower Ainārs Kovals it has now been fulfilled. Kovals scored a personal best Aug. 23 and earned a silver medal in the event.

Latvia now has earned gold, silver and bronze in the Summer Games, repeating a performance last registered in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. President Valdis Zatlers congratulated Kovals and said the javelin thrower had provided a great ending for Latvia’s athletes in these Summer Games, the president’s press office announced.

The 26-year-old Kovals hurled his javelin six times in the final, which took place in Beijing’s National Stadium, according to results posted on the official Web site of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. It was Kovals’ last throw, a distance of 86.64 meters, that turned out to be his personal best and that also earned him the silver medal.

The gold medal went to Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway, who set a new Olympic record on his fifth and final throw of 90.57 meters. The bronze medal went to Tero Pitkamaki of Finland, who could not quite catch Kovals with his best throw of 86.16 meters.

Another Latvian, Vadims Vasiļevskis, finished ninth in the 12-man field. His best was a distance of 81.32 meters.

For his silver medal, Kovals can expect a monetary award of LVL 50,000 from the Latvian government.

Latvian men’s BMX cyclist Māris Štrombergs won the gold medal Aug. 22 during the sport’s debut in the Olympics. Weightlifter Viktors Ščerbatihs claimed a bronze medal Aug. 19.

In the medals count, Latvia now has one up on Estonia, which has claimed one gold and one silver in the Beijing Games. Lithuania has five medals: two silver and three bronze.

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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