The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Latvia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Latvian Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 3,055 Athletes, 18 of which were born in Latvia. This makes Latvia the birth place of the 38th most number of Athletes behind New Zealand and Denmark.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Latvian Athletes of all time. This list of famous Latvian Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Latvian Athletes.

Photo of Jānis Lūsis

1. Jānis Lūsis (1939 - 2020)

With an HPI of 72.42, Jānis Lūsis is the most famous Latvian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 29 different languages on wikipedia.

Jānis Lūsis (19 May 1939 – 29 April 2020) was a Latvian track and field athlete who competed in javelin throw.

Photo of Inese Jaunzeme

2. Inese Jaunzeme (1932 - 2011)

With an HPI of 64.80, Inese Jaunzeme is the 2nd most famous Latvian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

Inese Jaunzeme (21 May 1932 – 13 February 2011) was a Latvian javelin thrower who won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics.Jaunzeme placed third at the Soviet Union Championships in 1956, earning herself a place on the Soviet Olympic team for the 1956 Olympics. She set an Olympic record in the first round of the event and went on to improve her mark twice more, ending up with a winning throw of 53.86 metres. This made her the first Latvian Olympic champion. She was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour in 1957 in recognition of her achievement and was selected as the Latvian athlete of the year in 1956 and 1957.Jaunzeme was the Latvian champion in the javelin in 1952, 1956, 1958 and 1960, and placed second at the 1957 World University Games. In 1960, she graduated from the Riga Medical Institute and retired from competitions. She worked in the fields of traumatology and plastic surgery, and defended a PhD in 1969. Since 1970 she was an orthopedics professor at the Riga Medical Institute. From 1999 until her death in 2011 she headed the Latvian Olympians Association.

Photo of Jānis Daliņš

3. Jānis Daliņš (1904 - 1978)

With an HPI of 59.56, Jānis Daliņš is the 3rd most famous Latvian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Jānis Daliņš (5 November 1904 – 11 June 1978) was a Latvian race walker. Competing in the 50 km event he won a silver medal at the 1932 Olympics, becoming the first Latvian to win an Olympic medal. He also won the 1934 European title and set seven world records in the 1930s. At the 1936 Olympics he led the race at 30 km, but abandoned the race due to a leg injury.

Photo of Afanasijs Kuzmins

4. Afanasijs Kuzmins (1947 - )

With an HPI of 56.88, Afanasijs Kuzmins is the 4th most famous Latvian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Afanasijs Kuzmins (born 22 March 1947) is a Latvian shooter who won two Olympic medals in the 25 m Rapid Fire Pistol event; gold at the 1988 for the USSR and silver at the 1992 Summer Olympics for Latvia. He also won the 1986 World Championship in 25 m Standard Pistol. Kuzmins trained at the Armed Forces sports society in Riga. He competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics and, by receiving wild card, competed also in the 2008 Summer Olympics. At the age of 61 Kuzmins finished 13th overall in his eighth Olympic appearance. No other shooter has appeared at eight Olympics; four have appeared at seven Olympics. Aged 65, he competed at his ninth Olympic Games at the 2012 Summer Olympics finishing 17th.

Photo of Dainis Kūla

5. Dainis Kūla (1959 - )

With an HPI of 56.48, Dainis Kūla is the 5th most famous Latvian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Dainis Kūla (born 28 April 1959 in Tukums, Latvian SSR) is a Latvian former javelin thrower who represented the Soviet Union at the international level for most of his career. He is most famous for controversially winning the gold medal in men's javelin throw at the 1980 Summer Olympics, becoming the second Latvian to achieve this (after Jānis Lūsis). He is also a World Championship bronze medalist, a three-time Soviet Champion and a two-time Universiade champion.

Photo of Juris Silovs

6. Juris Silovs (1950 - 2018)

With an HPI of 55.25, Juris Silovs is the 6th most famous Latvian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Juris Silovs (Russian: Силов, Юрий Викентьевич; 30 August 1950 – 28 September 2018) was a Latvian athlete from Krāslava who competed for Soviet Union from 1970 til 1978, mainly in the 100 metres. He trained at the VSS Vārpa in Riga.

Photo of Ilmārs Bricis

7. Ilmārs Bricis (1970 - )

With an HPI of 48.63, Ilmārs Bricis is the 7th most famous Latvian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Ilmārs Bricis (born 9 July 1970) is a former Latvian biathlete, who has participated in six Winter Olympics from 1992 to 2010. He is now a biathlon coach. Bricis currently coaches Baiba Bendika and Tomas Kaukenas.

Photo of Ineta Radēviča

8. Ineta Radēviča (1981 - )

With an HPI of 47.46, Ineta Radēviča is the 8th most famous Latvian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Ineta Radēviča (born 13 July 1981 in Krāslava, Soviet Union) is a retired Latvian athlete, competing in the long jump and triple jump. Radēviča won the bronze medal in the 2003 European U-23 championship. She has also won two NCAA championships, while competing for the University of Nebraska. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, she was 13th in the triple jump and 20th in the long jump. Radēviča became popular after posing nude for Playboy magazine before the 2004 Summer Olympics. She finished fifth at the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Championships and eighth at the 2007 European Athletics Indoor Championships. By the time 2008 Summer Olympics were held, she was pregnant and missed the competition. At the 2010 European Championships she won the long jump event with a new Latvian record of 6.92 metres. In 2011, she won the bronze medal in the World Championships in Daegu with a result of 6.76 metres. In 2017 she received Silver medal when results were updated because of past doping offenses.At the 2012 Summer Olympics she placed fourth, with Janay DeLoach finishing just one centimeter ahead of her. Afterwards she realised her dream of earning an Olympic medal was not going to happen, and she retired to devote herself to her family, ending her professional career. In May 2019, following reanalysis of her samples from the 2012 Olympics, which tested positive for oxandrolone metabolites, she was disqualified from the Olympic Games.Radēviča was coached by Evgeny Ter-Ovanesov.

Photo of Viktors Ščerbatihs

9. Viktors Ščerbatihs (1974 - )

With an HPI of 47.43, Viktors Ščerbatihs is the 9th most famous Latvian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Viktors Ščerbatihs (born 6 October 1974 in Dobele) is a former Latvian weightlifter and politician and a three-time Olympian for his native country. He is 181 cm tall. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, he won the silver medal in the over 105 kg weight category, with the total result of 455 kg (205 kg in snatch and 250 kg in clean and jerk). He has also won three bronze medals in the World Championships (in 1997, 1998 and 2003), gold in 2007 and several medals in the European Championships (bronze in 1997, 1999 and 2000, gold in 2001, silver in 2004, and four consecutive gold medals in 2005–2008). He started his political career with Latvian Farmers' Union in 2006 and was elected to parliament. He became world champion in 2007.At the 2008 Summer Olympics he won the bronze medal in the +105 kg category, with a total of 448 kg.

Photo of Jeļena Prokopčuka

10. Jeļena Prokopčuka (1976 - )

With an HPI of 46.58, Jeļena Prokopčuka is the 10th most famous Latvian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Jeļena Prokopčuka (née Čelnova; born 21 September 1976 in Riga, Latvia) is a retired Latvian long-distance runner, best known for winning the New York City Marathon in 2005 and 2006.

Pantheon has 18 people classified as athletes born between 1904 and 1992. Of these 18, 14 (77.78%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Afanasijs Kuzmins, Dainis Kūla, and Ilmārs Bricis. The most famous deceased athletes include Jānis Lūsis, Inese Jaunzeme, and Jānis Daliņš. As of October 2020, 2 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Juris Silovs and Juris Šics.

Living Athletes

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Deceased Athletes

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Newly Added Athletes (2020)

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Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 3 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.