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2016-09-14 20:09:00 CEST

Latvians recover from Olympic hangover

Rio’s in the past says the Lion King after opening #TorontoFinals win

The Latvians triumphed in their first match at the #TorontoFinals. Photocredit: Martin Steinthaler.The Latvians triumphed in their first match at the #TorontoFinals. Photocredit: Martin Steinthaler.

The Lion King and partner Janis Smedins are aiming big at the Swatch World Tour Finals in Toronto to help forget their Olympic disappointment.

The A1 Major Klagenfurt champions made a shock group stage exit from the Copacabana but won on their home tournament in Latvia before arriving in Canada and opened up their tournament with a 2-1 win over Polish duo Fijalek/Prudel.

“After Rio we went to Long Beach and then to Jurmala because it was important to us to get good results and good emotions to help us forget it faster and recover emotionally,” Aleksandrs told us. “What happened in Rio happened and we can’t change that.”

The Latvians got off to the perfect start in front of the epic Toronto skyline by taking the first set of the men’s tournament with a slick display. Together the pair dominated with some superb teamwork and, after opening up a small lead they went onto extend their advantage and went onto claim the opener 21-17.

Fijalek/Prudel showed signs of a recovery in the latter stages of the first set and they led briefly in the second only for the Latvians to roar back. A stunning piece of defensive play from Smedins set-up Samoilovs to put them four points clear. It looked like the Latvians were in cruise control as they led in the second set but in a sensational comeback the Polish pair stormed level after surviving three match points.

The Lion King literally roared back at the start of the decisive third set with a trademark monster block, a blistering spike and a clever shot that just caught the line. That opened up a three-point lead and this time, despite a few late unforced errors, the Latvians didn’t look back and secured victory.

“It will be tough this week because it’s the best of the best here,” added Aleksandrs. “10 years ago when I started playing there were five-eight teams with a chance of a medal at each competition but now anyone in the main draw can medal.”

This game was live on our stream service – as will all matches here at the Swatch World Tour Finals. Click here to watch now!

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