Double gold for Latvia’s Smedins and Samoilovs in Durban
“To get two titles in the same tournament, that is pretty amazing. It feels very good”, said Smedins.
In an all-Latvian final they defeated compatriots Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Solovejs 2-1 (15-21 21-17 15-10) and claimed their third gold medal this year together with two silvers and one bronze.
Smedins and Samoilovs had to come back from one set behind, while Samoilovs was struggling with his physique. This was their fourth match of the day, and after the semifinal against Brazil’s Pedro and Bruno he got cramps all over his body.
Smedins had to relieve him at the block more than once and pulled out a few serve aces to keep the pressure on Solovejs and his old teammate Plavins, with whom he won bronze at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Smedins and Samoilovs won the second set and created a lead from 5-5 in the tiebreak.
Solovejs, only in his fifth FIVB event and playing his first final, felt the pressure and started hitting the balls out. In the end it was again Smedins who secured the gold with a kill block on Plavins.
“It was very hard, because Aleksandrs had some problems with his health, I needed to block for him and serve strong otherwise we could not win. That’s why I am so tired right now and I am also having cramps at the moment. It has been crazy.”
Pedro and Bruno go home with the bronze
Pedro and Bruno set aside their disappointment over losing the semifinal and missing out on the World Tour title and took home the bronze. They won the first set (21-17) against Czech team Premysl Kubala and Jan Dumek and right after that Kubala forfeited with a muscle injury.
Before the Durban Open the Brazilians equalled the Latvians in medals this year, two golds, two silvers and one bronze, but trailed in points. Smedins and Samoilovs only needed to reach the quarterfinals to secure the World Tour title.
They did and they also proved that they were worthy champions by beating Brazil in the semis. “The Latvians played amazingly in the semifinal”, Bruno said. “Smedins served like fire, so they deserve the title, they deserved the final. But I am walking away here with my head up. We have had an excellent year.”