Thanks for being part of the BeVolleyball Community!
How are you doing right now? How did you feel during this last year of crazy pandemic times?
Hello! We are good now! When the pandemic started last year we took a 2 months break and then we had competitions all last summer in Latvia. Luckily the situation was good in our home country and we were able to practice outside. Then we prepared for European Championship and King of the court so at the end it resulted as a pretty busy year.
Everyone has a story, how did your story start with beach volleyball?
At first I played basketball for 10 years, then my father who was a professional beach volleyball player started coaching me, at the beginning it was just in summer.
Then step by step I started practicing more and more as well during the winters so probably I’m one of the first players who started playing snow volleyball 😉
Then I played my first official competition, the qualification for the under-18 European Championship that we actually won. The situation was funny as I never practiced with guys my age, we were practicing all the time with adults playing 4×4 and 6×6 and it seemed like it was a good preparation since we won it! After this I partnered with Plavins.
Then in 2004 I passed all my school exams and I was ready to apply for the Medicine Uni as I wanted to be a surgeon. Then I had the chance to enter the Olympic programme of Latvia by winning the under-20 Championship which opened the door for me to a professional career. After that we sat with my Mom and discussed this and I decided to try one year of this experience and then apply to the Med Faculty.
Then in 2004 we won the Under-20 European Champions, followed by winning in 2005 the under-21 World Championship in Rio de Janeiro, then another year we won the under-23 European Championship and then we qualified for Beijing Olympics.
So it started as an idea for one year but then by winning almost all is how I became a professional volleyball player.
The nickname “The Lion King” suits you very well 🙂 How did that start?
I got my nickname in the first game of the Beijing Olympics! It comes from one of showmans that worked many years for AVP, he is a legend and gave many nicknames to other players as “The Thin Beast”, “Superman”, “The Professor”. We played against Dalhauser and Rogers so in the official team presentations he presented me as Aleksandrs “The Lion King” Samoilovs.
After it all the media adopted it and started to use it so I already was The Lion King!
What do you like the most about playing beach volleyball?
Since I was a kid I remember I loved all sports as I like to be active.
What I like from beach Volleyball is that I’m very good at it, I like competing, winning and the vibes of this sport. It is a perfect mix between an individual and team sport which makes it perfect.
In all this time you played many games, participating in many finals, winning titles and medals. If you can choose one moment, which one will you always remember?
My most memorable moment was 2013 in Durban, in the final tournament of the year it was decisive to see who would be N1 in the world ranking and we were competing against Bruno/Pedro to sum the final points to get this spot.
This same week Nelson Mandela died and all events were supposed to be cancelled so we had to play 4 games on a Saturday with incredible hot temperatures.
After ¼ finals I suffered crampings and I spent 2 hours in the medical room. Somehow I was raised to play semi finals where we faced the brazilians.
Janis Smedin was incredible on that game, blocking and playing 90% second touch but finally we were able to win that game and the final reaching the N1.
It was such an incredible feeling and unbelievable fight to make it happen mentally.
What do you believe are the key attributes that a beach volleyball player should have in order to be successful?
Dedication. Not only in beach volleyball but in every sport.
How ready are you to put everything on this sport, how many sacrifices you will make in order to be the best and change your life and the ones around you.
You need to adapt all your life to the results you want to achieve, all these small details make the difference.
What I like from beach volleyball is that you need to be a complete player and master all elements of the game. Nobody can hide you or substitute you so you really have to be solid in all elements.
Where do you find inspiration? Who inspires you?
At the beginning my main inspiration was my father, he was the first who believed in the development of beach volleyball in Latvia.
As well other people, books and movies inspire me.
Also my kids are my big inspiration, I remember how after winning a tournament my child walked 24 hours with the medal and now everytime I come home they ask where the medal is 🙂
What are your goals and objectives for this special year, having in mind the Tokyo OG, and then for the upcoming ones?
The main goal for this year is qualifying for the Olympics and achieving good results in the next 3 tournaments in Mexico. They will be very important so we are preparing for them because after Mexico it will be a big fight in Ostrava and Sochi as very few spots for Tokyo will remain available.
Congrats on your project BeachBoxCamps! Very nice initiative to promote and make people enjoy this beautiful sport!
Could you tell us more about it?
I had the first idea of BeachBoxCamps in 2004 in Turkey when I saw a camp with amateur coaches, who were teaching drills and coaching other people.
Then I came back to Latvia and spoke with my business partner about it and in 2015 we did our first camp, it was a small one and with only Latvian people.
Then we decided “hey let’s go global” – to grow, switch to English and hire international coaches.
We decided to bring the highest level coaches to our camps, people that bring teams to finals, win medals and Olympic Games.
We are also looking for a great organization and have participants all around the world.
In 2019 we had 220 people from 31 countries! It was an amazing experience for everyone and we were happy that we built this fantastic international volleyball community.
This is the way we want to keep doing it.
See you soon, Aleksandrs!