A few to look out for in Rio

The Olympic Games start in Rio on August 6 and run to August 21.

Latvia is sending a 34-strong team to the games competing in 12 sports, and while we shall of course be urging every single member of the red-white-red team on, here are some of the main medal hopes to look out for and where possible, links to their social media profiles so you can follow them yourself.

This list is by no means comprehensive - we hope all our athletes do the very best they can!

In the London 2012 summer games, Latvia managed one gold (BMX) and one bronze (beach volleyball). Can we do better in Rio?

You can see more about the team and individual athletes at the official website HERE (in Latvian only).

And of course you can follow all of the LSM's comprehensive Olympic coverage HERE!

 

BMX - Maris Strombergs

Strombergs, from Valmiera in northern Latvia, already has two Olympic golds in his cabinet, having won the BMX event in both London 2012 and in Beijing 2008 when he became the first ever BMX Olympic champion. Three would be utterly sensational and despite variable recent form he has a habit of peaking at just the right moment.

 

Beach Volleyball - Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Šmēdiņš

Šmēdiņš is Latvia's only other London 2012 medallist competing in Rio. He picked up a bronze medal in men's beach volleyball with partner Mārtiņš Pļaviņš. After teaming up with Samoilovs, the pair reached the world number one ranking in 2013 after winning the European Championships. They will be hoping to shine again in the spiritual home of the sport, Brazil, by again combining Samoilovs' rangy reach at the net with Šmēdiņš' acrobatics on the floor.

Heptathlon - Laura Ikauniece-Admidiņa

Latvia's heptathlon star hails from Ventspils and this athletics all-rounder's best result so far was a bronze medal at the 2015 World Athletics Championships where she also achieved a personal best. She will be hoping to post another PB in Rio to be in with another chance of a medal - she has a great chance!

Javelin - Madara Palameika

Talsi-born Palameika was born to throw - her father just happened to be a javelin coach and it was not long before she caught the athletics bug. She is the Latvian record holder and though her form does tend to fluctuate quite wildly, recent weeks have seen her gaining consistency with 60-meter throws that should see her somewhere in the mix.

Jeļena Ostapenko 

Latvia's best female tennis player may be an outsider for a medal, but she's been steadily rising up the rankings (currently she is in the top 40, her highest position ever) and at just 19 years of age the experience of playing in Rio will surely do the Riga-born wunderkind a world of good in what looks like being a long and glittering career.

Jeļena Prokopčuka

One of Latvia's most successful and best-loved athletes, long-distance runner Jeļena Prokopčuka will be competing in her fourth Olympics, a remarkable achievement in itself. Best known for winning the 2005 and 2006 New York marathons, she is unlikely to be on the podium at 39 years of age, but she will still generate some of the loudest cheers among Latvian fans, particularly in home town Jurmala.

 

 

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