You may not expect it from a Baltic country but Latvians excel at beach volleyball. At the 2012 London Olympics, Latvia was one of few countries represented by two teams in beach volleyball, and Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins won bronze.
The 500 km of coast, numerous lakes and rivers mean you’re never far from a beach in Latvia. What’s more, many campsites and guest houses have beach volleyball fields of their own, and in Riga you can even play indoors at the all-weather beach volleyball centre!
Ice hockey is certainly the most popular sport in Latvia. Each spring, when the Latvian national team is playing in the World Championship, it is also followed by several thousand Latvian fans who have rightfully been identified as the best hockey fans in the world.
High-level hockey can also be watched live in Latvia – in the modern Arēna Rīga, that hosted the 2006 IHF World Championship, Dinamo Riga, a team of the Continental Hockey League (CHL), the world's second most powerful hockey league, plays its home games in this arena. Dinamo's games have attracted a big audience; both the players and CHL officials have genuinely acknowledged that it is in Riga that the best hockey atmosphere in the whole league is to be found. What's more, Dinamo Riga has demonstrated noteworthy performances, fighting all Russia's super-clubs as an equal, regularly entering the CHL playoffs, and in 2010 will play friendship games with NHL teams.
Among other things, Dinamo Riga has several NHL stars among its players, for instance the Stanley Cup winner Sandis Ozoliņš, who, since his return to his native Riga, has built the best golf course in all of the Baltics, the Ozo Golf Club on Lake Ķīšezers near Riga.
The Riga Marathon
The international Riga Marathon which takes place at the end of May is gaining in popularity and has received the Association of International Marathons and Road Races (AIMS) certificate and is this included in the international marathons calendar. The event takes place in the centre of Riga and gathers participants and viewers from all over the world. The SEB MTB Marathon, which is an exciting and highly watchable race, for its part, has been included in the International Cycling Union (UCI) calendar.
Car and motorcycle racing
Technical sports have always been popular in Latvia. The Speed, the adrenalin, uncompromising rivalry – this is what car and motorcycle racing is all about. Tens of thousands of motor sports fans from all over Europe gather in the early summer each year in Bauska, at the National Motorsports Centre Mūsa to watch the European Championship round in autocross. The event is popular not only among sports fans but also among the racers themselves, for the Mūsa Round is the most attended event during the European Championship, and it is recognised by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) as one of the best in the history of the championship.
Each year, Zelta zirgs (The Golden Horse) motor cross course at Ķegums offers a real treat to motorcross fans – the track which hosts the world championship round for sidecar teams, held 2009 and 2010 a world championship round for MX1 un MX2 – ranked among the best in the world – and will host the Cup of Nations in motor cross in 2014!
Daugavpils is the annual venue for speedway competition, including the World Championship Grand Prix trials. Latvia is an exciting place for breathtaking championships in the motorsports
Luge, strongmen, and other sports
There are many other sports competitions that take place in Latvia and which are attended by fans from all over the world. Just for example there is the annual competition in Sigulda for the luge championships and in Rīga the national horseback riding sports centre at Kleisti – an important stage each summer in the lead up to the world cup.
Naturally there must be a competition for the strong men – and Latvia offers the chance for strong men from all over the planet to show off their mettle in the international championships.
Davis Cup tennis enthusiasts can also enjoy their fare of championship lead-up games at Jūrmala, as well as in other sports such as athletics, wrestling, watersports, windsurfing, and yachting regattas. Something for everyone!
Football and basketball
Latvian basketball upper level players frequently play in European championship tours whereas football players from Latvia always find themselves participating in the championship qualification games thanks to which Latvia is often the venue for games by big time stars from the top European clubs. In recent years Latvia has been privileged to be entrusted with the organizing of important basketball matches. For example, the 2009 women’s basketball championships which took place in Liepāja, Valmiera, and Rīga were regarded as having been among the very best to date. Every year Latvia hosts the national basketball championships and the Baltic basketball league tours by some of Europe’ s best players.