Latvia fields 50 athletes for Beijing Olympics

Latvia will field at least 50 athletes in 11 different sports during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the Latvian Olympic Committee has announced. The number of athletes is the most ever in Latvia’s history of competing in the summer games, topping the previous record of 48 during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Track and field athletes make up the largest contingent, and Latvia’s women’s basketball squad will be the country’s first team in the Olympics in nearly three quarters of a century. Other sports represented will be judo, the modern pentathlon, swimming, cycling, kayak and canoe rowing, weightlifting, shooting, tennis and beach volleyball.

The number of athletes could increase yet in track and field events, for which qualifying continues through July, Latvian Olympic Committee President Aldons Vrubļevskis said in a July 18 press release.

Latvia’s Olympic delegation will be supported by 46 coaches, technicians, doctors and administrators.

Beijing will be the first Olympic Games in which a Latvian women’s basketball team competes, as well as the first in which Latvian BMX racers and beach volleyball players appear, said Einars Fogelis, chairman of the Latvian Olympic Committee.

Athletes from Latvia heading to the Beijing Olympics include:

  • The women’s basketball team consisting of Elīna Babkina, Gunta Baško, Aija Brumermane, Zane Eglīte, Anda Eibele, Liene Jansone, Anete Jēkabsone-Žogota, Ieva Kubliņa, Dita Krūmberga, Aija Putniņa, Zane Tamane and Ieva Tāre.
  • Judo competitors Jevgeņijs Borodavko and Vsevolods Zeļonijs.
  • Modern pentathlon competitors Deniss Čerkovskis and Jeļena Rubļevska.
  • Swimmers Andrejs Dūda and Romāns Miloslavskis.
  • Track cyclists Raivis Belohvoščiks and Gatis Smukulis, as well as BMX racers Ivo Lakučs, Artūrs Matisons and Māris Štrombergs.
  • Kayak competitors Krists Straume and Kristaps Zaļupe, as well as canoe athlete Miķelis Ežmalis.
  • Weightlifter Viktors Ščerbatihs.
  • Shooting competitor Afanasijs Kuzmins.
  • Tennis player Ernests Gulbis.
  • Track and field athletes Ronalds Arājs (200 meter), Jolanta Dukure (20 kilometer walking), Aiga Grabuste (heptathlon), Ingus Janevics (50 kilometer walking), Jānis Karlivāns (decathlon), Igors Kazakevičs (50 kilometer walking), Ainārs Kovals (javelin), Dmitrijs Miļkevičs (800 meter distance), Staņislavs Olijars (110 meter hurdles), Sinta Ozoliņa (javelin), Inna Poluškina (3,000 meter steeple), Jeļena Prokopčuka (marathon), Ineta Radeviča (long jump), Ēriks Rags (javelin), Igors Sokolovs (hammer throw), Māris Urtāns (shot put), Vadims Vasiļevskis (javelin), Valērijs Žolnerovičs (3,000 meter steeple) and Ieva Zunda (400 meter hurdles).
  • Beach volleyball competitors Mārtiņš Pļaviņš and Aleksandrs Samoilovs.

Three of the athletes earned silver medals in the 2004 Olympics: weightlifter Ščerbatihs, modern pentathalon athlete Rubļevska and javelin thrower Vasiļevskis. Among the better known professionals athletes are tennis player Gulbis and marathon runner Prokopčuka.

The women’s basketball team is the first Latvian squad to qualify for the Olympics since the men’s basketball team competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

The greatest number of Latvian athletes ever in either the winter or summer Olympics was 58 in the 2006 Turin Olympics.

The Beijing Olympics are scheduled Aug. 8-24.

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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