Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins have wasted little time in reclaiming top form as they returned to competitive action in Latvia in July.
As part of the Latvian Tour, Samoilovs and Smedins were back competing on the court at Jurmala Beach, where they won their most recent FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold, and they hit the sand running with more gold for their collection.
It means they are in good form as they go into the CEV European Beach Volleyball Championships that take place at Majori Beach in Jurmala from September 15-20.
It has been eight years since Samoilovs and Smedins teamed up as a fulltime team.
They came together for the start of the 2013 season, not long after Smedins won bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games, alongside Martins Plavins.
Theirs was one of two medals that the Baltic country won, and led to the pair receiving a phone call from then Latvian President Andris Berzins as they left the court at Horse Guard’s Parade and an open-top tour from the airport to the Presidential Palace on their return home.
Samoilovs and Smedins made an immediate impact as a pair and it did not take them long to start winning on the World Tour as they claimed victory in their third tournament together, the Corrientes Grand Slam in Argentina.
They were pushed hard by Brazil’s Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Pedro Solberg that year, but victory in Durban in December meant that they finished the year as World Tour champions, a title they successfully defended in 2014.
“The most memorable victory was in South Africa in the last event in 2013 in Durban with Janis,” Samoilovs said.
“With Nelson Mandela dying a week earlier, the South African government cancelled all events on Sunday (December 15). So, four rounds of matches were scheduled for Saturday and we were fighting with Pedro and Bruno of Brazil for first place in the FIVB world ranking.”
The pair remain among the leading men’s teams and currently sit in 17th place in the provisional Olympic Rankings. If they do qualify for Tokyo 2020, Samoilovs, 35, and Smedins, 33, will be playing in their fourth and third Olympic Games, respectively. They have unfinished business having been knocked out at the first round at Rio de Janeiro 2016, when points ratio was the determining factor following a loss in their final pool match against Pedro Solberg and Evandro Goncalves.
While their dreams of Tokyo 2020 glory may be on hold, for now, they have shown that they are full of confidence and aiming for another European title to add to the one they won in 2015.
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020