(photo credit: AP)
Alex Averbukh will not have the chance to end his career the way he dreamed after failing to advance to the final of the pole vault competition on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old didn't look like himself at the Bird's Nest, just barely passing 5.45 meters with his third attempt and not coming anywhere near to clearing 5.65m in any of his three tries.
"I hoped to reach the final and I knew 5.65m would be enough," said Averbukh, who reached the final in the last two Olympics, but only finished the qualifiers in 28th position. "I had pain in my Achilles all season and you need to be 100 percent fit to compete at the Olympics."
Of his future, the two-time defending European champion said: "I will jump one more year, but only for fun. I plan to take part in the Maccabiah and in the World Championships. These were my last Olympics and that's tough to take.
"There are seven million people in Israel and only 43 get to go to the Olympics, with only four of them taking part in the athletics competitions," he added. "It's a great honor to represent Israel and it will be hard not to be an athlete anymore."
The rhythmic gymnastics competitions get underway in Beijing on Thursday, with Israel well represented in both the individual and group events.
The qualification round in both events will continue on Friday at the Beijing University of Technology gymnasium, with the top 10 from the individual and top eight from the group advancing to the finals, to be held on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Irina Risenzon and Neta Rivkin will represent Israel in the individual qualifiers, with Risenzon looking to make the final after finishing last year's World Championships in seventh position.
At 17, Rivkin is in Beijing mainly to gain experience for the future and is not expected to break the top 10.
In the group event, Katerina Pisetsky, Alona Dvornichenko, Raheli Vigdorchik, Veronika Vitenberg and Maria Savenkov will be happy with nothing less than a berth in the final after coming sixth at last year's world championships.
Also Thursday, Bat El Geterer will compete in the under-57 kilogram Taekwondo contest and can claim a medal with just three victories in Beijing, as each Taekwondo Olympic event includes just 16 competitors.
The 20-year-old, will, however, face stiff competition and is not one of the favorites.