Estonia is a sport-loving country, and the locals give high importance to physical fitness. The residents take a lot of pride in the accomplishments of their athletes. Be it team sports like basketball or football or winter sports like skiing, Estonians are fond of watching and participating in various sports.
In this article, we take a look at five of the most popular sports in Estonia.
Basketball In Estonia
Basketball is often regarded as Estonia’s national sport and one of the country’s most popular sports. The men’s national basketball team first joined FIBA in 1934. However, when the country came under soviet rule, all sporting activities were halted. When Estonia got its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it re-joined FIBA.
The national team participated in the Summer Olympics for the first time in 1936. To date, the team has appeared six times in the EuroBasket. Out of these six times, it finished in fifth place twice in the competition. The national team has not yet qualified for the World Cup, and currently, it ranks 44th in the world.
Estonia also has domestic basketball championships to promote and develop young talent. The top league in the country is the Korvpalli Meistriliiga. The recent champion of the league is KK Paulus Parnu, while the most successful is Tartu Ülikool, having won the championship 26 times. The Korvpalli Meistriliiga follows a relegation and promotion system with the I Liiga, the second-highest basketball league in the country.
Football In Estonia
Football is also highly popular in Estonia. Although Estonian teams have not been very successful in football, international matches garner much attention from football enthusiasts.
The national team participated in the World Cup qualifying rounds in 1934 and 1938 and could not be a part of international events till 1991, when Estonia came out of Soviet rule. Since 1994, the national team has participated in all qualifying rounds for the World Cup and European Championship but has not yet succeeded in getting through to any major event. It did come close to qualifying for Euro 2012, which is its best performance to date as it advanced to the qualifying play-offs against Ireland. The team is currently placed at 109 in the FIFA rankings.
The Estonian Football Association also regulates football leagues in the country, the top league being the Meistriliiga. The league has 10 teams presently and was established in 1992. It follows a relegation and promotion system with the Esiliiga, Estonia’s second-highest football league.
Beach Volleyball In Estonia
A surprising addition to our list is beach volleyball. You may not find the sport that popular in other countries, but in Estonia, it is highly popular as a participatory sport.
Estonian national teams participated in the CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup in 2018-20. Two Estonian beach volleyball players, Kristjan Kais and Rivo Vesik, represented Estonia and won the Zaghreb Cup in 2007. The duo also represented the country at the Summer Olympics in China in 2008.
The two players also won silver medals in the Swiss and Russian Masters in 2006 and 2007 and bronze medals in the Austrian and Spanish Masters in 2007 and 2009. Rivo Vesik is also the coach of the Estonian beach volleyball team.
Cycling In Estonia
Next up, we have cycling. While cycling is a popular physical and recreational activity among the locals, Estonia has produced numerous successful cyclists who have won many laurels for their country. The best Estonian professional cyclist to date is Jann Kirsipuu. He won four stages of the Tour de France and one stage of the Vuelta a Espana.
Another prominent cyclist of her time was Erika Salumae, who won her country’s first Olympics gold medal after Soviet rule in 1991. Earlier, in 1976, Aavo Pikkuus won a gold medal in the Olympics when he was a part of the Soviet team. Other notable cyclists include Tanel Kangert and Rein Taaramae.
Cricket In Estonia
Lastly, we have cricket. Compared to other team sports, cricket is a fairly new sport, as the Estonia Cricket Association was established in 2007. The association became a member of the ICC in 2008. The association administers the affairs of the national cricket team and the cricket league.
The national team played its first international match in 1999 and its first T20 against Cyprus in 2021. The Estonian cricket league was formed in 2007 with four teams and currently has 12.
Ice cricket, a variant of regular cricket, is also played in Estonia. Estonia was also home to the Ice Cricket World Championship, which was played on a frozen lake in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.
What are some popular sports betting sites in Estonia?
Paf – a bookmaker that offers sports betting and online casino games, as well as land-based gaming options in Estonia and other countries.
Optibet – a bookmaker that offers sports betting, online casino games, and live casino games, as well as land-based gaming options in Estonia and other countries.
Betsafe – a bookmaker that offers sports betting, online casino games, and live casino games, as well as land-based gaming options in Estonia and other countries.
Coolbet – a bookmaker that offers sports betting and online casino games, as well as live streaming of sports events and a mobile app.
OlyBet – a bookmaker that offers sports betting, online casino games, and live casino games, as well as land-based gaming options in Estonia and other countries.
Who are some famous athletes from Estonia?
Here are some famous athletes from Estonia:
Gerd Kanter – a former discus thrower who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.
Kristina Šmigun-Vähi – a former cross-country skier who won two gold medals at the 2006 Turin Olympics and a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Erki Nool – a former decathlete who won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and silver at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Mart Seim – a weightlifter who won silver at the 2015 World Championships and bronze at the 2016 European Championships.
Kaia Kanepi – a tennis player who has won four WTA singles titles and reached a career-high ranking of world No. 15 in 2012.
Janek Õiglane – a decathlete who won gold at the 2019 European Indoor Championships and bronze at the 2018 European Championships.
Jüri Jaanson – a former rower who won two Olympic medals and multiple World Championship medals in the single sculls event.
Ott Tänak – a rally driver who won the 2019 World Rally Championship and has multiple rally wins to his name.
Erika Salumäe – a former track cyclist who won two Olympic gold medals and multiple World Championship medals in the sprint events.
Heiki Nabi – a wrestler who won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and silver at the 2013 World Championships.
What is the national sport of Estonia?
The national sport of Estonia is considered to be “kiiking,” which is a swinging sport that involves attaching oneself to a giant steel swing and attempting to swing a full 360 degrees around the spindle.