A sports marketing study conducted by international company Mediacom has concluded that football is Latvia’s most popular sport – a title it has now held for three consecutive years. The annual study takes into consideration 65 sports activities in Latvia, calculating their popularity by taking into account the amount of active and passive participants in each sport at both a social and competitive level, as well as tracking the amount of coverage each sport receives in the media and attendance at events. The study hopes to give both sports and sponsors a better idea of how much coverage their sport is receiving; and from a sponsor’s perspective, how viable their sponsorship of an event is. The remaining four sports in the top five offered up some interesting results. Taking out second spot was running, two places up from last year; third spot went to volleyball and beach volleyball combined, the same position as last year; basketball suffered the biggest drop, from second place to fourth this year; and surprisingly, only taking out fifth spot is what is considered to be Latvia’s national sport, ice hockey. The rise of running can be directly correlated to the ever-growing popularity of the Riga marathon and events such as the Nike 10 km run.
Estonian basketball club Kalev/Cramo has run into unforeseen issues by this season signing Senegalese center Bamba Fall. Whilst there are no problems with the 25-year-old when the Tallinn-based club plays at home, the issues occur when the team either needs to play in, or transit via, Latvia, a country that does not recognize Senegalese passports as valid travel documents. Given the club participates in the BBL and VTB League, competitions that require the team to both play in and travel through the country to play regular games in Lithuania, Fall has to make different travel arrangements to arrive at some games, or simply stay at home when his teammates are playing in Latvia. Efforts are being made to find a solution to the problem, but as yet a conclusion has not been reached, with the Latvian Foreign Ministry claiming that the problem lies with slow cooperation on behalf of Senegal. On Nov. 12 Kalev/Cramo flew out of Riga to Kazakhstan capital Astana to play a VTB game. Fall was required to travel separately to the team via Russia, a country seemingly only too happy to welcome the Senegalese citizen.
The Baltic countries have failed to make an impact at the 2011 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships, with the eight Lithuanian and Latvian athletes that were sent to the championship in Paris last week returning home with just one top ten finish between them, with Lithuania’s Aurimas Didzbalis finishing 10th in the men’s 94 kg category, assuring the 21-year-old a spot at next year’s London Olympics. Despite finishing outside of the top ten in the men’s 105 kg category, 20-year-old Latvian Arturs Plesnieks may have still done enough to make the Olympics with a 15th spot finish, with his final ranking the fourth best of the lifters competing in the B final. The only lifter younger that Plesnieks in the field was 19-year-old Zygimantas Staniulis of Lithuania, who finished in 24th spot, one place behind teammate Modestas Simkus. In the men’s 105 kg + category, Lithuanian Vincas Slevinskis finished 33rd and Latvia’s Artjoms Ivanovs finished 37th. The Baltic’s two remaining athletes, Marius Mickevicius and Donatas Anuskevicius, finished in 22nd and 24th, respectively, in the men’s 85 kg division. Already going to London but not competing in Paris is Latvian Viktors Scerbatihs. The men’s super heavyweight bronze medal winner in Beijing in 2008 is currently recovering from a back injury.