Arik Ze'evi's fourth and final Olympics lasted just 43 nightmarish seconds on
The 35-year-old Ze’evi, who won his fourth European title
earlier this year, entered the 2012 Games with high hopes, but had them
shattered within the first minute of his first round.
Peters was supposed to be an easy opening hurdle for the Israeli in the
under-100kg competition, but he almost immediately managed to pin Ze’evi to the
mat, eventually forcing him to raise his hand in submission.
“In my worst
nightmares I hadn’t envisioned such a scenario,” a shocked and emotionally
overcome Ze’evi said. “I never thought my Olympic career would end like
“I don’t know if this was a result of me being overconfident or of
the German’s skills on the mat. This is a massive disappointment. I made a
mistake and I paid for it.”
Ze’evi, a bronze medalist from Athens 2004,
became just the third Israeli to participate in four Olympics on Thursday, but
he has no plans of competing in Rio 2016, although he has yet to make up his
mind regarding retirement.
“I will take a break for a couple of months
and make a decision,” he said. “Physically I feel fine, but I’m mentally
drained. This was my final Olympic fight and I can’t believe it ended like this.
I’m still trying to understand how this could happen.”
The lofty status
Ze’evi has acquired in Israeli society over the years was evident by the fact
that both President Shimon Peres and Sport and Culture Minister Limor Livnat
called to console him.
Peres who experienced more than a few hard knocks
in his long political career, told Ze’evi: “Arik don’t let your spirits sag.
People who win sometimes have to take a heavy blow.”
Peres emphasized how
much pride and honor Ze’evi had brought to Israel in the past and added that the
true test was not to get discouraged.
“I learned this from my own
experience,” said Peres.