I turned on the TV this evening just in time to see Alexander Shatilov, Israeli Olympic Gymnast, perform a flawless routine on the horizontal bar. It gives me great pride to support the Israeli olympic team and with the games underway, it’s time to highlight our talented athletes, past and present.
Israel was first represented at the 1952 Games in Helsinki by a team of 22 men and 3 women. Hurdler Esther Roth became the first Israeli to qualify for an Olympic final. She finished 6th in the 100m hurdles at the Montreal Olympic games in 1976. She was also Israel’s flagbearer at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Israel’s first medals came in 1992 at the Barcelona Games for Judo competitors Shay-Oren Smagda who took bronze in the half lightweight class and Yael Arad (first Israeli woman to win a medal) claimed a silver in the half middleweight.
To date, only one Olympian has brought home gold and that is Gal Friedman. Gal medalled in windsurfing with a bronze in the 1996 Atlanta Games and gold in Athens, 2004. Another Israeli success in windsurfing belongs to Shahar Zubari who brought home a bronze medal from the 2008 Games in Beijing. Zubari is competing again in London
Israel’s small but strong team of athletes have brought home medals from every Olympic games since Barcelona in 1992. This seems to me an extraordinary feat as nearly all of these athletes put time aside from training to serve in the Israeli army.
This year, we put our hopes in 37 athletes competing in 10 different sports. Some of this years shining stars include:
- Lee Korsitz, world champion Windsurfer
- Shahar Peer, ranked 11th in the world in Singles Tennis
- Alexander Shatilov, Artistic Gymnast competing in the finals for mens all around
- Yakov Toumarkin, set a national record for the 200m backstroke
- Shahar Zubari, Windsurfer that brought home the bronze in Beijing
- Amit Ivri, set a national record from women’s 200m personal medley
On behalf of Milestones Israel, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our Olympians luck in the 2012 London Games!