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2016-07-31 09:30:00 CET

More than sports: Double trouble on the Copacabana

Two fathers make Latvia's golden boys on the Copacabana and 59-year-old Andris Smedins will experience his first major sporting event.

Andris Smedins sat on the stand at A1 Major Klagenfurt and kept a straight face. He looked so relaxed when watching the final between Samoilovs/Smedins from Latvia and the Brazilians Guto/Saymon, that you wouldn’t imagine it was his own son Janis Smedins, who scored point after point, won the gold medal and was honored with the outstanding player of the tournament award.

Andris Smedins. Photocredit: Ninja PriesterjahnAndris Smedins. Photocredit: Ninja Priesterjahn

“I am used to watching Janis play really good,” Andris said after the match. Since 2013, daddy Smedins has watched his 29-year-old son win one gold medal after another. “He is working very hard for it,” he says. And he must know: Andris Smedins, 59, and Genādijs Samoilovs, 57, father of Aleksandrs Samoilovs, 31, are the coaches of the two Latvians, who have won 11 gold medals at international competitions since they teamed up after the Olympic Games 2012. During that time they have moved to the top of the FIVB World Tour ranking point standings with 5,270 points in 12 events. “Both fathers made these fantastic players,” Edgars Buls, manager of SAMSME said. “They united to make our dream couple.”

Bronze medal brought beach volleyball boom to Latvia

Looking forward to the Copacabana, where Samoilovs/Smedins will start on Sunday with the rematch of the A1 Major Klagenfurt semifinal against Saxton/Schalk from Canada, coach Smedins does not want to put too much pressure on Latvians beach volleyball heroes. “I do not want to make any predictions,” he says. “There are 16 teams are so close, that anyone can win.”

Four years ago, his son Janis surprised the world by winning the bronze medal at the London Olympics with his partner Martins Plavins. “After that success, we had a beach volleyball boom in Latvia,” Andris says. Three indoor facilities have been built in Riga and more and more kids started playing.

Andris Smedins and Genādijs Samoilovs. Photocredit: Ninja PriesterjahnAndris Smedins and Genādijs Samoilovs. Photocredit: Ninja Priesterjahn

One of those children is 18-year-old Mihail Samoilovs, the younger brother of Aleksandrs, who won bronze at the U19 World Championships last weekend. Latvia also want to host a World Tour event in the future. But for now, it is time for Andris Smedins, to pack his bag. It will be the first time he will experience this major tournament as four years ago, he didn’t accompany his son in London.

“I didn’t want to because the boys just had a match every second day,” he explains. It was not enough for Andris just to come over as a spectator. Aigars Birzulis was the coach of Plavins/Smedins at the London Olympics. This time, it will be Andris together with Genādijs Samoilovs, who are responsible for Latvians medal hopes. Genādijs will attend his third Olympics – just like his son Aleksandrs.

It promises to be a real father-and-son-adventure.

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