Latvia won its first medal at the Athens Olympics when Evgeni Sapronenko took the silver medal in vault jumping on Aug. 23, on the 10th day of competition.
Spaniard Gervasio Deferr won the gold in the event to retain his title with a score of 9.737, while Sapronenko came second with a score of 9.706. The Romanian Marian Dragulescu came third after landing awkwardly on his second vault, to the evident delight of Deferr.
Sapronenko was personally congratulated by Latvian Presdient Vaira Vike-Freiberga in a phone call. "The president and all of Latvia send you a big kiss for this victory. I am very glad and very proud of you," the president told the gymnast, according to her spokeswoman.
The athlete stands to win 50,000 lats (75,000 euros) for the medal.
Estonian Juri Jaanson finished second in the men's single scull race on Aug. 21 to win silver. The gold went to Norway's Olaf Tufte, while bronze went to Bulgaria's Ivo Yanakiev. It was Jaanson's fifth Olympic competition in his career.
Meanwhile Indrek Pertelson gave the country something to smile about when he won the bronze in the +100 kilogram judo discipline on Aug. 20, which is Estonia's Restoration of Independence Day.
"I am very satisfied to win this medal but what made it so much more satisfying is that today is Estonia's Restoration of Independence Day," Pertelson said. In a typical bit of sporting irony, Pertelson beat Russian Tamerian Tmenov to win the bronze.
Heptathalete Austra Skujyte unexpectedly clinched Lithuania's first medal on Aug. 21 when she won the silver medal in one of track and field's most prestigious events. After an unimpressive start in the first two events, a strong showing in the 200-meter race restored her confidence, and she began to rise in the rankings. After meeting or breaking her personal bests in several events including the javelin throw-her best event-Skujyte found herself in second place going into the 800 meter race, the final event of the Olympic heptathlon. While the race is traditionally Skujyte's weakest event, she broke her personal record by three seconds and successfully defended her silver standing.
And Virgilijus Alekna won the gold medal in the discus, after having initially taken silver on Aug. 23. Alekna, who walked away from the Sydney Olympics with the gold, threw an impressive 69.89 meters on his first attempt, setting a new Olympic record.
But he was unable to surpass Hungarian Robert Fazekas, who tossed the disk an astounding 70.93 meters on his second try to break Alekna's newly-made Olympic record and assure himself of the top spot on the medal platform.
But in a postevent drug test, Fazekas reportedly refused to give a urine sample and was then caught trying to switch a sample. The IOC stripped him of his gold on Aug. 24 and awarded it to Alekna instead, with Estonian competitor Aleksandr Tammert taking the bronze.