Smedins and Samoilovs aiming for even better in 2014
In 2013 the Latvian pair became the first side from their country to win the rankings title. When they reached the quarterfinals of the Durban Open, the final tournament of the year, they ensured that their nearest rivals Pedro Salgado and Bruno Schmidt couldn’t catch them.
It was their third gold of 2013 and they also topped the podium at the Corrientes and Moscow Grand Slams and they also claimed two sets of silver medals and one bronze on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
However, their failure to win a medal at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, Mazury 2013 or the European Championships means they have new goals for the year ahead.
“We did not win gold in every tournament, so there is something to aspire to,” Samoilovs said. “Reaching the top is difficult, but staying there is even harder. Our goal next year is to sustain and improve our performance, such as winning gold at the European Championships.”
Smedins and Samoilovs went out of the World Championships in the round of 16 to Canadian pair Ben Sexton and Chaim Schalke, who won 2-0 (21-15, 21-18), but it did give them the resolve to go on and win the World Tour title.
“On that day they played great, we didn’t play how we wanted to,” Samoilovs said. “Beach volleyball is unforgiving if your level drops. If we hadn’t lost there though, perhaps we wouldn’t have been first in the World Tour.”
The pair are now beginning the preparations for the coming season with warm-weather training in Egypt and Spain in a bid to match their success of 2013.
It was an emotional end to 2013; following their victory in Durban, the pair won FIVB Team of the Year and they also received a presidential welcome from Latvian President Andris Bērziņš.
The Durban Open meanwhile took place against the backdrop of the death and funeral of global icon Nelson Mandela, whose funeral meant that they had to play four matches in one day so as not to clash with a national day of mourning in South Africa.
Overall it meant the pair will never forget how or where they sealed their maiden World Tour crown.
“Because of Nelson Mandela's funeral we had to play four games in one day,” Samoilovs said. “It was a struggle not only with our opponents and the weather, but also with yourself. The body refused to work and had to be forced into action.”