It was only this past March that Donald Sanford was finally given the IAAF’s
approval to represent Israel, and just five months later, he will already get a
chance to compete for his adopted country in the world’s biggest sporting
Sanford failed to achieve the Olympic Committee of Israel’s
criteria, but the 400-meter runner was added to Israel’s delegation to the
London Olympics after finishing fourth in the final of the European
The 25-year-old came a mere nine hundredths of a second
away from an historic medal for Israel in a sprint event, ending the 400m final
in a time of 45.91 seconds.
Sanford was required to record an Olympic A
standard time of 45.30s to book his place in the Olympics. However, a special
committee headed by OCI president Zvi Varshaviak decided to accept the country’s
Elite Sport Department’s recommendation that Sanford’s performance in Helsinki
should be deemed as an extraordinary accomplishment and therefore he should be
sent to London.
Sanford bettered the Olympic B standard time of 45.90s
twice in Helsinki, with his best time of the championships (45.77s) good enough
to have put him through to the semifinals at last year’s World Championships and
the Beijing Games.
The Los Angeles native met Israeli basketball player
Danielle Dekel while the two were at Central Arizona College before moving on to
run for Arizona State.
The two married in 2008 and have lived in Kibbutz
Ein Shemer for three years, becoming parents to daughter Amy earlier this
Cynics may doubt Sanford’s allegiance to Israel, but he never
misses an opportunity to express how proud he is to be representing the
blue-andwhite and he comes as manna from heaven for Israeli athletics.