Plavins and Smedins claim first World Tour gold with win over Austria
Martins Plavins (left) and Janis Smedins have another medal to add to their collections after winning gold at the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam|
Stare Jablonki, Poland, August 19, 2012 – Olympic bronze medallists Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins ensured that their celebrations will go on a little longer after they won their first ever FIVB SWATCH World Tour gold medals against Austria’s Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst.
The Latvians won the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam with 21-19, 22-20 victory. In the first set the agility of Plavins at the back of the court and Smedins’ presence at the net meant that after the initial exchanges they had the upper hand. In the second they edged ahead early on and despite the Austrians saving two match points, a Smedins block earned the pair gold.
“It is amazing,” Plavins said. “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 her 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 and now we believe in ourselves.”
Plavins and Smedins’ 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, then at the London 2012 Olympic Games they shocked Dutch veterans Richard Schuil and Reinder Nummerdor in the bronze medal match.
Now that their season is coming to a close they will evaluate how they will approach the 2013 season, which includes the FIVB World Championships in Stare Jablonki.
“I don’t know about a target,” Plavins added. “Me and my partner came together for the Olympic cycle. We will come together in about a month, talk about this season and talk about next season and then you will see.”
For Horst and Doppler the silver is their first medal since they teamed up at the start of the year. For both it is the first time they have finished on a World Tour podium.
“We wanted to be in the top 10,” Horst said. “It is our biggest success so far and it is only our first season together, so it’s very important. Of course we wanted the gold medal, but overall we are satisfied with our result.”
Rogers and Dalhausser added the bronze medals to the golds they won at Stare Jablonki in 2010 and 2011. They beat compatriots Sean Rosenthal and Jacob Gibb, who were forced to forfeit the match after Gibb aggravated a back injury early in the first match.
The bronze means the pair ends 2012 with four medals; gold from the Shanghai Grand Slam and Brasilia Open, and bronze medals from the Prague Open and Stare Jablonki.
“It’s been a disappointing year,” Rogers said. “When we look back we made the semifinals in six of our eight tournaments. Most would consider that a pretty good year, but Phil and I have set our sights and expectations a bit higher.
“We wanted to win really bad. There are five teams on the Tour with two wins each and it would have been nice for us to have won a third.”
The Mazury Orlen Grand Slam is the ninth of nine mixed gender tournaments on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour and the final men’s tournament of the year. The winning side left with the largest share from a pot of $300,000 per gender.