Olympic medallists end partnership on a high
Plavins will now team up with Janis Peda, while Smedins will join forces with Aleksandrs Samoilovs for the 2013 season. Samoilovs previously played with Plavins from the 2004 Junior World Cup through till after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, when he joined forces with Ruslans Sorokins, whom he played with at London.
The Latvian pair enjoyed a stellar end to the 2012 season when within the space of 10 days they won the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games and then their first FIVB SWATCH World Tour gold medal at the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki.
In London Plavins and Smedins beat Dutch veterans Richard Schuil and Reiner Nummerdor in the bronze medal match at Horse Guards Parade to become only one of two medals that the Baltic nation won; BMX rider Maris Strombergs was the other with his second consecutive gold.
So popular were the duo in their homeland that they received a phone call from state President Andris Berzins to congratulate them on their success as they left the court. Then on their arrival at Riga airport, they were taken on a tour of the city, where the streets were lined with people cheering them and Strombergs all the way to a government reception.
After a few days celebrating their Olympic success at home they drove across the border into Poland, where they summoned enough energy to beat Austria’s Alexander Horst and Clemens Doppler in the final, in what turned out to be their last FIVB tournament together.
“It is amazing,” Plavins said at the time. “At the last two tournaments we didn’t expect anything, but at the Olympics we finished with the bronze and here we won our first World Tour gold. We were tired from the Olympics and came here by car and didn’t expect much.
“We didn’t expect to beat such great teams like Emanuel (Rego) and Alison (Cerutti), and (Todd) Rogers and (Phil) Dalhausser. We didn’t think we had a chance, but we showed we could.”
Plavins and Smedins teamed up at the start of the 2009 season and they made their debut as a team at the Moscow Grand Slam. Before Stare Jablonki their previous best result was the silver medal from the 2010 Marseille Open and they also won bronze at the 2010 European Championships.
At the 2011 FIVB World Championships they served notice of their potential when they finished fourth and then fulfilled that promise in spectacular style over those 10 crazy days in August 2012 that no Latvian will ever forget.