THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Rūta Meilutytė (born 19 March 1997). This week, at the Summer Olympics in London, she won the gold medal in the women's 100 meter breaststroke with a time of 1:05.47, becoming the first Lithuanian swimmer since Lithuania's Declaration of Independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 to earn an Olympic medal in swimming.
Fifteen-year-old Rūta Meilutytė is a refreshingly outstanding representative of the original spirit of sports at a time when seriousness and the business aspects of sports often takes over for joy and the more fundamental aspects of the competitions.
Rūta has managed to grow strong, athletic and competitive-focused in spite of a difficult childhood in a country where training opportunities in swimming and many other sports are bad, because here in Lithuania it’s mostly just basketball that counts.
Her gold medal in the Olympics shows that even a young girl who is not raised and trained as a professional athlete since birth, can manage to reach even the highest goals in the sports world.
She is a true Cinderella of our days!
Šarūnas Jasikevičius, during EuroBasket 2011.
Text: Vin Karnila
Mention the words Sport and LITHUANIA and the next word you hear is always BASKETBALL. While a number of Lithuanian players have gone on to careers in the NBA it may surprise you to find out that quite a few Lithuanian athletes have had successful professional careers in the U.S.A. in other sports as well. What may be even a little more surprising is that these athletes excelled in what are considered “American” sports. As an example, did you know that the two players that most people say were the greatest players in the National Football League were Lithuanians?
Basketball is the sport that has tied Lithuania and USA closest together, so let’s first introduce you to the Lithuanian basketball stars “over there”.
In July 2005 Sarunas Jasikevičius signed a three year contact with the Indian Pacers of the NBA. The point guard, who won three consecutive Euroleague championships, agreed to a three-year deal with the Pacers. Back in 1998, he was a solid wing player with Maryland, known for his shooting and intelligent play. He went back to his native Lithuania and plied his skills in club ball in Europe, becoming one of the best at his position. Arunas said “European ball is getting closer to the level of the NBA. I don't feel I have to play there to prove myself as a player,“
Johny Podres, Lithuanian American, son of immigrant parents, born and raised Upstate New York, pitched two historic World Series wins against the New York Yankees in 1955. The World Series championship was the one and only victory in the history of the "Brooklyn" Dodgers. Subsequently, the Dodgers (and Podres) moved to Los Angeles in 1958.
People always said the cigarettes and the gambling and the whiskey and the late hours would surely get Johnny Podres. In 2008, those experts were proved right. Now they’re going to have to explain how The Pod made it to 75.
The Other Dream Team is a documentary film directed by Marius A. Markevičius (picture). The inspirational story of the 1992 Lithuania national basketball team and their incredible journey from the clutches of Communism to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. It stars many famous basketball persons like Yao Ming, Arvydas Sabonis, David Stern, Jim Lampley, Bill Walton, Šarūnas Marčiulionis, Paul Gasol and others. The film should be released in 2012.
When you hear the words "dream team" the names such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen come to your mind. That's the squad of USA national team in Barcelona Olympic Games 1992. But that wasn't the only team in Barcelona which deserves the title "dream team". The other dream team was Lithuania.
The moment of Lithuania returning to the world's basketball family and instantly winning bronze in the Olympic Games was a unique moment in the history of basketball, memories of which brings NBC Sports Broadcaster Jim Lampley to tears. The full movie features many basketball legends such as Bill Walton, Šarūnas Marčiulionis and more.
TalkBasket.net presents you the trailer of the new documentary by Marius A. Markevičius called "The other dream team". Enjoy the video.
Arvydas Sabonis with ex Portland Trailblazers team
mate Bill Walton during the induction ceremonies
For a country that proclaims their second Religion to be Basketball, you can imagine the excitement that is growing as EuroBasket 2011 draws near. The tournament that crowns the Basketball Champions of Europe always creates great emotion in the hearts of Lithuanians but this year there is even more fuel to add to the passionate fire because the championship tournament is being held in Lithuania.
Everyone is counting the days, hours and minutes to 31 August at 9 PM EET when Lithuania plays their first game. Everywhere you look people are wearing Lithuanian Basketball T-shirts, cars are decorated in the National colors and banners and posters are everywhere.
Now what could take place that would add even more to the basketball fever that has infected everyone?
You induct into the NBA’s Hall of Fame the greatest basketball ever to come from Lithuania. Yes folks, Friday 12 August Arvydas Sabonis was inducted into the National Basketball Association’s Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Said by most to be the greatest “big man” to ever play the game, he is also considered to be one of the greatest centers to play the game and some even say that he was the greatest center in the world.
Watch his induction speech here:
For 2011, LITHUANIA has been chosen as the host country for one of the most prestigious Sport’s Tournaments in Europe and the World. This is the second time in the Tournament’s rich history that Lithuania has been chosen to host the Basketball Championship of Europe.
EuroBasket 2011 will crown the Basketball Champion of Europe. While this is an important event for all European countries, it is especially important for a country like LITHUANIA that proclaims Basketball as its “Second Religion”.
The EuroBasket Championship saw its first tournament held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1935. Since then, every two years the greatest teams and talent have met for the “bragging rights” of Europe.
Throughout the history of the tournament our Lithuanian Team has done very well.
Clip about European mens basketball championship which will be held in
Lithuania 31 August – 18 September 2011.
Sabonis at the “Berlin ITB”, held 9 – 13 March
In Lithuania, basketball has an almost religion-like status and a big part of the population considers hosting a EuroBasket an once-in-a-lifetime experience.
In this context, it's easy to understand why the EuroBasket 2011 official ambassador needed to be a "larger than life" figure. Luckily, figures -Lithuanian or otherwise- don't come any bigger than that of Arvydas Sabonis.
The basketball legend who revolutionized the game in the 80's, when he showed the world that a big (2.22m big to be precise) player could pass the ball like a point guard and shoot from long range even better than one, was the automatic choice when the LOC and FIBA Europe asked themselves who better personifies Lithuania and EuroBasket 2011.
Sabonis, in his capacity as the official ambassador has been promoting the event all over Europe since late October. "This is a big day for our country, after 72 years basketball is coming back to Lithuania",
"We built five new arenas, EuroBasket is very important for our young players and for all Lithuanians, for us basketball is like a second religion."
Ramūnas Vyšniauskas, the weightlifter whose medal collection contains European silver and bronze medals.
There are over a hundred different kinds of sports in Lithuania, with the top three most popular sports being basketball, football, track-and-field. Check this web page to read more: http://lietuva.lt/en/sport…
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