We asked Raimonds Liepiņš to share his thoughts about Riga Open and its future.
Raimonds, tell, please, about the history of the tournament.
– Riga Open was started by Janis Amolins in 2002 if I'm correct, we always mess up the dates. It has had some of the world’s strongest athletes coming to Riga to fight with our own strongest athletes. Every championship has their own stars and all shine bright in my eyes. It's hard to pick which year was the best tournament, I'm very pleased by job my team did on organizing this event as well with all athletes that showed up this year.
Are you satisfied with this year’s event?
– We had biggest Open class in history with 26 competitors on left and 30 on right hand. We had most athletes coming from our neighbor country Lithuania, but also from Hungary, Ukraine and Estonia.
Your event was first full-sized event made with URPA system. What do you think about it?
– URPA system is another way for athletes to gain motivation and develop their carrier. Armwrestling right now isn`t like other professional sports, we have very little money and only hand of athletes get payed, but with this system you can compete and be more attractive to sponsors. I don`t see any harm coming from Unified rating, we have already too much misunderstandings in world of armwrestling and creating platform that gives more motivation and a will to compete will help us grow in every direction. Every time you make ranking, people will want to get higher, be first, so I think it`s a good idea.
Speaking about this case with WAF and URPA. Do you feel safe and calm about the Latvian federation now?
– I want to state here officially that I'm for development of the sport of armwrestling not only in Latvia but globally. WAF fighting with URPA harms sport more than our usual problems. We are always behind WAF and we are fighting every day to make sport more popular and better in every way possible. Every competition we apply every WAF rule and every standard. And no, I don`t feel safe, we are scared from all this misunderstanding. Because it is misunderstanding and looks more like a personal matter to me. I don`t see a reason why would WAF need to take sanctions against Latvian federation just because we interacted with URPA system, which basically puts results on a website. If the problem is names "professional" and "amateur", they should make proposal, congress should vote on this and then athletes should choose for themselves. But if we do that, we are making world of amrwrestling much much smaller, which isn`t that big already. I hope WAF and URPA/PAL can come to some agreement and keep working to make this sport better. As J.K. Rowling said, “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided”.
So, Riga Open has become a tournament that opened the era of professional events supported by URPA. Despite the circumstances, athletes who plan their further participation in the European and world championships pulled at these competitions. And we are confident that they will be able to successfully develop both amateur and professional sports career.
Raimonds Liepiņš and the team organized a great event, in which both juniors and seniors took part, and the main reward was not only the position in the ranking, but the pleasure of a fair fight.