Lithuanian football club Ekranas is the only remaining Baltic team in the running for a spot in the Champions League this season with Latvian club Ventspils and Estonian club Flora both failing to make it past the second round of qualifying. Ekranas made it through to the third and final qualifying round after defeating Irish club Shamrock Rovers 2-1 on the return leg fixture on July 24, giving them a 2-1 aggregate score. However, Ventspils was brushed aside by Norwegian club Molde, who advanced with a 4-1 aggregate score. The news was even more depressing for Flora, who failed to score over the two legs, losing out 5-0 to Swiss club Basel.
A further five Baltic teams will know their future in Europe this year on July 26 as they enter the second round of the qualifying matches for Europe’s second-tier club competition, the Europa League. Latvian club Skonto needs to overcome a 2-0 deficit when they host Croatian club Hajduk Split in Riga. Lithuanian club Suduva go into their home leg game against Serbian club Vojvodin with the upper hand after scoring a goal in a 1-1 draw on the away leg. Another Lithuanian club, Zalgiris, travel to Austria to play Admira with the aggregate score showing 1-1. Losing the home leg 1-3, Estonian club Levadia’s campaign looks like coming to an end when they travel to Cyprus to play Anorthosis, whilst Latvian club Metalurgs go to Poland to play Legia, with the aggregate score showing 2-2. Estonian clubs Kalju, Trans and Levadia, and Latvian club Daugava have already been eliminated following the first leg.
Estonian would-be London Olympian Kaia Kanepi has had her dreams of Olympic glory shattered, with the tennis player failing to overcome heel injuries in time to be ready for London. Kanepi made the announcement via her personal Web site on July 18, saying, “It is very sad that I cannot participate in the Olympics. I do not know if I will ever get another chance to participate in the Olympic Games. At the moment all I want is my legs to be ok and that I could play tennis without feeling any pain.” The 27-year-old has been suffering ongoing heel problems since the spring, marking the latest in a long string of injuries. Despite the injury setbacks, the right-hander has been in the form of her life, winning titles in Brisbane, Australia and Estoril, Portugal, as well as making two quarter-finals and one semi-finals appearances, making her a genuine medal chance. London would have been Kanepi’s third Olympics, following on from appearances in Beijing and Athens. The Haapsalu native had already sat out Wimbledon in order to be properly prepared for the Olympics. She has not yet been willing to comment on any future plans regarding the remainder of the season.
The Lithuanian U20 men’s basketball team have achieved a remarkable feat, defeating France 50-49 on Sunday night in Slovenia at the final of the U20 European Championship to claim their fifth gold medal as a group. Struggling through group play with two losses, Lithuania claimed the last qualifying spot to the next round, where they also lost to Latvia. Sneaking into the quarter-finals, Lithuania then saw off hosts Slovenia and Serbia, whom they beat last year in the gold medal game at the U19 World Championship to set up a date with France in the final. Beginning at the European Youth Olympic Festival in 2007, the team has since gone on to win the 2008 U16 European Championship, 2010 U18 European Championship, 2011 U19 World Championship, and now the 2012 U20 European Championship. The feat makes the team one of the, it not the most, dominant generations in youth basketball. This year’s feat was made all the more remarkable by the fact that it was done without last year’s U19 World Championship MVP and team captain, Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas is now a member of the Lithuania senior men’s team preparing for the Olympics.