Latvian Annual Sports Awards celebrate the country's top athletes

Tennis player Sevastova once again triumphed in the women's category, while skeleton athlete Martins Dukurs claimed his sixth athlete of the year award in the men's category. In the fan vote Latvian Television recognized sidecar motocross passenger Kaspars Stupelis as the most popular athlete of the year.

In 2019 Sevastova won the first-ever Women's Tennis Association tournament in Jūrmala, and also reached the top eight in two Grand Slam tournaments. In the women's category the athletes seem to have a tradition of winning the award two years in a row, and this is Sevastova's second year in a row. Although the tennis player was plagued with injuries, she is optimistic about the next season and highlights the win in Jūrmala as her favorite moment.

World and European champion Dukurs has also won the award in 2010, 2011 and from 2013-2015. He's the only one in the men's category to win the award more than twice. Dukurs admitted that it's been an interesting year with two gold medals, but also injuries that made him value his health even more, as every year begins again from zero.

"If you're lucky enough to find something in life so dear to your heart, then you can move mountains. That's the key," said Dukurs.

Stupelis was recognized as the most popular athlete after receiving the greatest number of votes in the telephone voting. He thanked all of his supporters, both local and international, who helped him reach the final by voting online at LSM.lv. He came out on top out of 12 athletes. Stupelis also won athlete of the year in the technical sports category for his fourth World Championships title.

Genādijs Samoilovs was named coach of the year for coaching beach volleyball players Tīna Graudiņa and Anastasija Kravčenoka to winning the European Championships, as well as to the Olympic Games along with fellow athletes Mārtiņš Pļaviņš and Edgars Točs. He said that he feels lucky to live in such a beautiful city as Jūrmala and work with such amazing athletes.

Graudiņa and Kravčenoka were recognized as the best team in the individual sports category. They were also named most improved at the FIVB World Tour Beach Volleyball Awards. Graudiņa said it feels great to receive such recognition for all of their hard work. The men's handball team was named team of the year for making it to the European Championship finals.

President Egils Levits presented Imants Ziediņš with the lifetime achievement award for maintaining the spirit of hockey in Talsi. Levits said Ziediņš is an idealist who knows how to reach his goals. Ziediņš said how pleased he is that in Talsi so many people believed in his vision, despite the sceptics.

The European BMX Championships in Valmiera was recognized as the sports event of the year. Experience BMX coach Ivo Lakučs said that the track named after two-time Olympic champion Māris Štrombergs was worth it, as it helps teach new talent. Cyclist Krists Neilands was named rising star of the year.

Latvian national basketball team captain Jānis Blūms presented Pļaviņš with the fighting spirit award for having a successful season despite long-standing battles with an injury. He said that it's an honor to receive such an award and thanked his wife for supporting him.

World para-athletics champion Diāna Dadzīte won the Paralympic Committee award for her two medals. She said she's not only pleased with her gold in javelin, but also her bronze in discus, because it was so unexpected after an injury.

The Arturs Vaiders award for sports journalist of the year went to Inita Kresa-Katkovska from Latvian Radio. Santa Krasovska from Rubene Primary School was named sports teacher of the year. 

The event is organized by the Latvian Olympic Committee, Latvian Television and the Igo Japiņš Sports Agency, along with financial support from the Ministry of Education and Science and the Latvian Sports Federation.

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