“IN IT TO WIN IT: ESTONIANS IN COMPETITIVE SPORTS” — MAIRIS (LATVIA)

While I am a fan and a player of basketball myself, my curiosity lead to find out what people of this great country have achieved in sports and who of them Estonians are proud of. Unfortunately, this time I won’t talk about Estonian extreme-swinging (kiiking) or something like that, but rather some mainstream sports.

But let me start with the story of my own.

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Team “Ratuzzze”. From the left: Mairis (Latvia), Adrian (#Bulls33 Spain), Matthieu (France), Alex (Spain)

I’ve been lucky to find great guys to play with a basketball game here in Tartu. In fall, 2015, I was having nice time on the court with other fellows who loved basketball (people were pretty much from all over the Europe). Believe me or not, but in the picture above you can see the Champs of Tartu Night-Cup (Öökoss 2015) streetball (playing 3×3 on one basket) tournament. Even though this event was not so great, it still counts! It was nice rivalry where we, team “Ratuzzzee”, got the 1st place. The rest of the rivals were Estonians, so we were pleased to be the only international team in this event. However, all the games were very intense and we initially even lost one game in group matches, but we managed to fight our way out till the finals and receive Gold medals. My first Estonian Gold medal! Nice feelings, believe me. And thanks to the guys from my team who made it happen!

So, what about my lovely basketball here, in Estonia?

Basketball (korvpall) National Team

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The first competition of Estonian national basketball team took place at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin where they ended up in 9th place. They have twice finished FIBA EuroBasketon in 5th place (in 1937 and 1939). Estonia also qualified to the FIBA EuroBasket 2015, with preliminary round matches held in Riga, Latvia (20th place).

Football (jalgpall) National Team

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Indeed, football in Estonia is the most popular sport. First game for National team took part against Finland in 1920. Afterwards, in 1924 they participated in the Olympic Games tournament (Paris). Although the team has not achieved any big success in international tournaments, almost everyone in Estonia knows everything about football and can’t wait to watch the next match.

Floorball (saalihoki) National Team

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Although this type of sports is relatively new for the world, Estonians have already proved their potential in World Championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014, reaching 8th, 9th and 8th positions respectively. Great success!

Judo (džuudo)

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Judo has been one of the most successful sports in Estonia historically. In Olympics they have won 3 Bronze medals (two in 2000 in Sydney and one in 2004 in Athens); 4 medals in World Championships: 3 silvers in 1999, 2001, 2003 and a bronze in 2003; and 15 European Judo Championship medals in total. Indrek Pertelson, Aleksei Budõlin and Martin Padar are the most famous Judo athletes in Estonia in the past years.

Rowing (sõudmine)

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This interesting sport is quite popular and successful in Estonia. Especially well Estonia was represented during the years from 2004-2009: in 2004th Olympics in Athens (silver), at least one medal in World Rowing Championships in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009, and in Olympics in Beijing 2008 silver again! And after seven years,in 2015, they got back on the track with the bronze in World Rowing Championship.

Skiing (suusatamine)

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This is for sure the king of the winter season. I believe you cannot consider yourself Estonian if you have never been on skis! Estonians are great at skiing, especially cross-country skiing, and no wonder that each year Estonia’s winter capital Otepää holds World Cup event.

However, Estonians are not only good at organising world-class Cross-skiing events, but also taking part in those. Estonia has won 4 golds at Turin’s (3x) in 2006 and at Salt Lake’s (1x) in 2002; and one silver in 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. And, of course, couple of medals in World Championships. As the most successful athletes here I must mention Andrus Veerpalu, Kristina Šmigun-Vähi and Jaak Mae.

Track and Field Athletics (kergejõustik)

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Here I would like to mention 3 top athletes which have brought Estonia’s name in the most prestige competitions with great success.

Erki Nool (1970) is an athlete (and also politician), who’s is well known not only in Estonia but also in my Latvia (and I believe all over the world too) among all the track and field athletes. Nool has been one of the all-time best in decathlon that is an athletic event taking place over two days, in which each competitor participates in the same prescribed ten events (100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1,500-meter run). He is also one of the best in heptathlon that is a track and field event in which each competitor takes part in the same prescribed seven events (100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin, and 800-meter run). He has achieved terrific results in numerous tournaments. As the greatest achievements we can mention European Indoor Champion in 1996, Stockholm; European Champion in 1998, Budapest, and IAAF World Combined Events Challenge champion in the same year; Olympic Champion in 2000, Sydney, and again IAAF WCEC Champion; and ‘few’ more silver and bronze medals (13 in total!).

Gerd Kanter (1979) is a discus thrower, who has 3rd best mark of all time in discus throwing history (73,88m). Kanter have gathered 15 (!) medals from world class events in total. 5 medals from those are golds: 2005, Izmir, Champion in Universiade; 2007, Osaka, World Champion, and in the same year he reached 1st position in World Athletics Final (Stuttgart); 2008, Beijing Olympic Champion, and after Olympics he again won gold in World Athletics Final (Stuttgart).

Andrus Värnik (1977) is a javelin thrower, with his best made shot of 87,17m, which is also фт Estoninan record. His first medal (silver) was earned in World Championship in Paris (2003), and his only gold medal comes from World Championship in Helsinki, 2005.

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