In a sport born some 40 years ago in California’s youth culture and appearing for the first time in this summer’s Olympics, Latvia’s Māris Štrombergs has won the gold medal in men’s BMX cycling. He outpaced two American challengers in the Aug. 22 final at the Laoshan Bicycle Moto Cross (BMX) Venue in Beijing.
The 21-year-old Štrombergs, the reigning world champion in the sport, finished the course in a time of 36.190 seconds, according to results posted on the official Web site of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Mike Day of the United States took silver with a time of 36.606 seconds, while his teammate Donny Robinson won bronze with a time of 36.972 seconds.
The victory is Latvia’s second medal of the Beijing Games. Weightlifter Viktors Ščerbatihs won a bronze medal Aug. 19. Štrombergs’ medal also is only the second gold won by an athlete from independent Latvia. During the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Igors Vihrovs won a gold medal in floor exercise.
Latvian BMX cyclist Artūrs Matisons finished seventh in his Aug. 22 semifinal run and so did not advance to the final or medal run. Ivo Lakučs finished eighth in his quarterfinal run and did not advance to the semifinals.
Štrombergs, according to state law, is in line for a LVL 100,000 monetary award from the Latvian government for having won a gold medal in the Olympics. Ščerbatihs could get LVL 30,000 for his bronze victory.
Estonian athletes also have won two medals—one gold and one silver. Lithuania, meanwhile, has five—two silvers and three bronzes.
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