Sports in brief - 2011-03-24

  • 2011-03-23

Latvian Zigismunds Sirmais has broken the world junior javelin record at the European Cup Winter Throwing meet in Sofia, Bulgaria on Sunday. Going into the competition, with a previous personal best of 82.72 m, the 18-year old blew the competition away with a throw of 84.47 m, bettering the previous world record mark by 60cm. The previous record was set ten years ago by World and Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway. “The conditions were awful, but I seem to throw all my best results in bad weather,” Sirmais told following the meet, adding that his intentions are now to compete for Latvia in London 2012.

Lithuanian powerhouses Lietuvos Rytas and Zalgiris Kaunas will be joined by Latvian clubs Ventspils and VEF Riga in the final four of the Mastercard Baltic Basketball League. The semifinals, playoff for third and fourth and grand final will all take place in Kaunas, Lithuania on April 2 and 3. All four clubs made it through to the final four by clean sweeping their best of three quarter-final series. Lietuvos Rytas was pushed the hardest of the four clubs, escaping with a one-point victory over fellow Lithuanian club Siauliai (90-89) in game one before coming from behind to win game two, 95-72. Zalgiris was not made to work quite as hard as Lietuvos Rytas, easily accounting for another Lithuanian side Nevezis 104-70 in game one, and 78-66 in game two. Ventspils ended the hopes of Estonian fans knocking out the last remaining Estonian side, Tartu Rock. At home in game one, Ventspils prevailed, 84-77, before clinching the series with a one-point (62-61) victory in the second game. Having lost to Lithuanian team Rudupis just weeks before the quarterfinals, VEF brought their A game to game one, knocking over their guests 91-65. They would not show the same level of domination in game two, but still won, 82-67, to book their berth in Kaunas.

Latvian cyclist Gatis Smukulis is the surprise winner of the opening stage of the 2011 Vuelta de Catalunya. The HTC highroad rider formed a breakaway group of three riders just 22km into the 167km opening stage that took riders through the hills around the Spanish resort town of Lloret de Mar. During the course of the stage the other two riders dropped back into the pack, but the Latvian continued to go at it alone, finishing with a time of four hours, eight minutes and 48 seconds; 28 seconds ahead of the pelaton. “I’m really surprised I could win today,” the 22-year old rider told before adding, “I’m in good shape for the Classics, but these sorts of long breaks don’t normally work out.” In its centennial year, the tour has attracted a star-studded field including three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador and leading Australian cyclist Cadel Evans.