3x3 star Lasmanis inspired by legendary dad before Olympics bid
5 May 2021
ALICANTE (Spain) – Long before becoming 'Batman', Karlis Lasmanis' incredible 3x3 journey can be traced back to being inspired by his personal superhero.
Having not seen his father Ugis Lasmanis compete at the Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 Olympics as a rower, the Riga star grew up surrounded by the adoration of being the son of a Latvian sporting legend.
Even though he was more interested in being a baller, young Lasmanis' competitive juices were fueled by famous stories of his determined dad.
"He told me a lot of stories but one stood out that was incredible,” Lasmanis recalled of his dad's tales. "Before an Olympics, he had a bad injury and needed surgery in his lower back. But he fought on for the Olympics, which was amazing.
"He always shared me stories of how intense the training camps were and how he prepared his body."
Motivated by his hero, Lasmanis is on the cusp of following his father's footsteps into Olympics glory. The 2m (6ft 7in) unstoppable scorer - along with superhero sidekick Nauris Miezis - will be Latvia's key player at the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria on May 26-30.
Latvia are one of the favorites to grab one of the three tickets to the Tokyo Games having in-built chemistry with World Tour powerhouse Riga essentially doubling as the national team.
Riga ensured a miserable 2020 ended on a positive note for them with epic victories at the Doha Masters and World Tour Jeddah Final, where the endings were crazier than The Six Sense's final scene.
In Doha, Lasmanis hit the shot of a lifetime which was followed by Miezis' stunner in Jeddah.
They fell short of a three-peat in Doha and had mixed results in the United League Europe in Russia but a 10-day training camp in Spain is hoped to get them back on track in time for Graz.
In Alicante, the team is staying together in an apartment to recapture their famed chemistry that will translate onto the court.
"It's good to be together and we like each other’s company," Lasmanis said of Latvia who won silver at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019. "On the court, we just need to look at each other and we know what to do."
The 27-year-old has been bothered by a foot injury but is adamant he'll be ready for the intensity that awaits in Austria. "There will be pressure and when it comes closer you can feel it more and more," he said.
Crunch time is finally coming after so much hype but it's a position Lasmanis is far more comfortable in than 12 months ago when his Olympics dream was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It crashed my mentality but once we played on the World Tour I forgot about it," he said. "Everything happened for a reason. Who knows, maybe we weren't ready at that time."
Lasmanis is hoping to emulate his father but he might not be the last Olympian in the family with his younger sister starring in triple jump and long jump at Florida State University. The Lasmanis family might eventually become something like Latvian Olympic royalty.
"She's a prospect and has a bright future,” Lasmanis said of his 20-year-old sister. "She's dreaming of the Olympics too. I know if I make it my whole family will be really proud because being an Olympian is extra special for us knowing what dad did."
As he prepares for the biggest moment of his career, Lasmanis has wisely turned to his father for advice.
"He told me to do a lot of work before the qualifier. Go there with a clear mind," he said.
"It's like if you go to a maths exam and you're not ready and try to cram with two hours left - it's not going to work. This is the same thing.