19/06/2015 09:27
Ruslans Sorokins changes partner and looks, waits for major win to shave off
2015 European Games

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 19, 2015. Latvia’s Ruslans Sorokins and Aleksandrs Solovejs eventually made it to the elimination round in the men’s Beach Volleyball competition of the Baku 2015 European Games but they were made to work hard in their last match in Pool C with Ukraine’s Iaroslav Gordieiev and Vladyslav Iemelianchyk. After losing to the Ingrosso twins and to Greece’s Kotsilianos/Zoupanis, this was their last chance to continue their campaign at Baku 2015 and they eventually made it through with a 21-15, 18-21, 15-12 win.

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Sorokins and Solovejs are playing together this year for the first time; Solovejs toured the world last year alongside 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Martins Plavins whilst Sorokins – a 2012 Olympian with Aleksandrs Samoilovs – played in partnership with Toms Smedins.

“We were in Egypt for a training camp earlier this year where we tried to get used to the heat,” Sorokins explains. “But that was not enough. It was only 25 degrees. Here it is already 35° in the shadows at 10 am and you feel like the temperature has risen to 45° out there. We are not used to these conditions in Latvia. But we are very happy that we finally could win because we have been going through many difficulties so far this season,” he continues.

Sorokins played at the 2012 Olympics in London with Aleksandrs Samoilovs and the pair ended the Olympic competition in ninth place whilst their countrymen Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins claimed a historic bronze medal. After the Olympics the composition of the Latvian pairs has changed many times and after the last swaps, the Latvian Volleyball Federation decided that the 201 cm tall Solovejs, who is 24, would be the right match for the more experienced Sorokins, now 33.

“We play three sets almost all the time because we are not used to each other yet. We must improve a lot of things and get to know each other better. Latvia is not a big country and there are only a few good players, but I am very happy that I have Aleksandrs as my partner,” Sorokins says. “He is a talented young player who serves and spikes extremely well,” says Ruslans, who has been a full-time professional Beach Volleyballer since 2008.

Known for his striking looks, Sorokins has grown a long beard and this has made him even more recognisable to the fans. “Everybody keeps on asking about my beard and when or if I will shave off. I got tired of all these questions about shaving or not,” he continues. “I have told the journalists also back home that I will shave off only once I win an FIVB tournament. The truth is that I don’t know if I will shave even after I win an elite competition,” he says and laughs loudly.

As for Solovejs, who started playing Volleyball at school when he was 12, he is determined to give it all to have a long and successful career in Beach Volleyball. “I still have lots of things I need to improve on. I need to work on my defence skills and to be more consistent in my performance throughout the match,” he concludes.

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