Participants of the online voting in which this year’s winner of the title was chosen described Ostapenko, known as Jelena on the international circuit, as a hard-working person whose athletic victories have raised Latvia’s profile in Europe and the wider world, as well as inspired and united Latvia’s society.
It is the third award Ostapenko has collected in recent weeks, having also been named Rigan of the year and Sportswoman of the year in separate ceremonies.
The three finalists shortlisted for the European of the Year 2017 title also included Andris Berzins, a businessman and co-founder of TechHub Riga. Participants of the vote described him as the “engine” driving the development of Latvia’s startup businesses. Over the past year, Berzins has helped numerous startups develop their products and services that have generated millions of euros to the Latvian economy.
Krista Burane, a stage director, playwright and author of interdisciplinary art projects, was the third finalist who was praised as a representative of Europe’s best values. Her activities, voters said, have been inspiring people to actively defend environmental and democratic ideas.
The title European of the Year has been awarded for the 20th time.
The public voting for this year’s winner took place from October 28 to December 27.
The title of the European of the Year in Latvia is awarded to the person who has provided the most significant contribution to strengthening links between Latvia and the rest of Europe, raising Latvia's profile in Europe and integrating European values in Latvia.