Maksis Grandbergs: Latvia’s rising star in beach paravolley and beyond

At just 19 years old, Maksis Kārlis Grandbergs excels both on and off the court. The young Latvian star is showcasing his great talent at the 2024 WPV Beach ParaVolley Men’s World Championship in Yunyang in Chongqing, China, where he collected memorable wins with his team.

Reflecting on his team’s down-to-the wire victory against Slovakia in their last preliminary match, Grandbergs shared, “I think we as a team showed the competitive spirit by fighting back from 8 to 21. We showed that we can fight and take on any team, especially Slovakia. They had more experienced players than us, but we demonstrated our resilience and unity.”

Grandbergs’ goals extend far beyond a single victory. He and his team have their sights set on the gold medal. “Obviously, our goal is to win the gold medal,” he said. “But more importantly, we want to grow together as a team and achieve new highs. This tournament is special for us because we’re not as experienced as teams like Poland or India. This is our moment to prove ourselves on the world stage.”

Grandbergs in action at the 2024 WPV Beach ParaVolley Men’s World Championship in Yunyang in Chongqing, China.

He is also passionate about the inclusion of beach paravolley in the Paralympic Games Sports programme, emphasising the disciplines’ unique demands and the exceptional athletes who play it. “This sport is for people who are, I think, tougher than regular professional athletes,” he explained. “It’s incredibly tough to go out on a stage like that and fight through pain and fatigue. We hope to see more women’s teams participating and for this ti gain the recognition it deserves.”

A versatile athlete, Grandbergs’ love for sports began at a young age. “I’ve been playing sports since I was young. I love basketball, soccer, floorball, cycling, and volleyball. I just move around whenever I’m free,” he said. This diverse athletic background has built his endurance, although the humid conditions of his current competition have been a challenge. “I might seem exhausted, but that’s because I’m not used to the air here. It’s much more humid and wet than in Latvia.”

The young Latvian athlete is also a dedicated student and an aspiring teacher. “I’m 19, and currently a 12th-grade student awaiting graduation. I plan on becoming a math teacher. I’ve been playing volleyball for nine years and sitting volleyball since 2022. My first championship was in France at the European Sitting Volleyball Championship B Division, where we advanced to the elite division and achieved sixth place, a record high for Latvia.”

Grandbergs’ talents extend into music as well. He attended music school, learning to play the flute, piano, and organ, and sang in a choir. After his voice broke, he shifted his musical focus to hip hop, using it as a medium to express his emotions and thoughts through lyrics. This journey recently led him to the “X Factor,” where he joined on a whim but ended up making it to the TV selection.