On Monday, 8 August, Latvia’s best beach volleyball pair Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins won against Canadians Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk in their first match with a score of 2-1 (21:17,18:21, 15:13) in sub-group tournament in Rio de Janeiro.
On Tuesday, Latvia’s duo will face against the lesser known Cuban athletes Nivaldo Diaz and Sergio Gonzalez. The group’s tournament will conclude on Thursday with a match against Evandro Gonzalez and Pedro Salgado from Brazil.
For Samoilovs, Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will be the third Olympic event in his career. He started out in a pair with Martins Plavins at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Four years ago, he took part in the Olympic Games in London with Ruslan Sorokin. For Smedins, this will be the second participation in Olympic Games. Four years ago he and Plavins won bronze at the Olympic Games.
Samoilovs and Smedins concluded the 2013 and 2014 season as world-class leaders. 33 athletes from Latvia are taking part in this year’s Olympic Games.
More than 10,500 athletes from around the world will be competing against one another in Rio de Janeiro until 21 August. Golf and rugby return this year as official Olympic sport disciplines.
Rio de Janeiro is the first city in South America that has received the right to organize Olympic Games. Attempts were made in the past as well – the first was in 1936, followed by 2004 and 2012. Only in 2009 did the dream finally come true. Having outcompeted cities like Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro was entrusted the organization of the 31st Summer Olympic Games.
The main Olympic stadium – Maracana stadium – was built approximately 70 years ago. It was restored in 2014 for the Football World Cup.
The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro began with a doping scandal: a report of the World Anti-Doping Agency published in July mentioned that Russian state institutions had developed and organized a system that helped hide positive doping test results of its athletes in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2013 World Championships in Athletics in Moscow.
Russia’s original Olympic delegation consisted of 387 athletes. Unfortunately, the doping scandal reduced the number of admitted athletes by 68.
Shortly before the beginning of the Olympic Games, USA Today predicted that Latvia may win three gold medals, and that the athletes to climb the pedestal would be European champion in spear-throwing Zigismunds Sirmais, heptathlonist Laura Ikauniece-Admidina and beach volleyball duo Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins. According to the latest prediction from Gracenote, spear-thrower Madara Palameika and the two aforementioned beach volleyball players may win silver, and wrestler Anastasiya Grigoryeva may win bronze. Latvia puts high hops on Olympic champion BMX cyclist Maris Strombergs and weightlifter Arturs Plesnieks.