With the Israeli delegation returning home empty handed from the Olympics for
the first time in 20 years, it is hardly surprising that the Olympic Committee
of Israel did its best to bury Monday’s report into the team’s performance in
the London 2012 Games.
No fancy press conference (usually so beloved by
the OCI) was called and only general details were released to the public, as if
the report includes information which could pose a threat to Israel’s national
Israel failed to win a medal at the Olympics for the first time
since Yael Arad took the country’s first at the 1992 Barcelona Games, with
windsurfer Lee Korzits and gymnast Alex Shatilov recording the delegation’s best
results, finishing in sixth place.
Since the end of the Olympics, the
director of Israel’s Elite Sport Department, Gili Lustig, and his staff held
countless meetings with coaches and the heads of the different associations,
analyzing the showing of each of the 37 Israeli athletes sent to
The report he presented to the OCI board on Monday showed that 22
of the 37 Israeli representatives met the goals set out for them ahead of the
Games. However, Lustig, who has overseen Israel’s professional preparations for
the past five Olympics, understands that the failure to win a medal is all that
is going to be remembered from the past summer.
“I have said at every
chance that I take responsibility for the delegation’s performance, but I also
analyzed the results and we had 12 top-10 finishes,” Lustig told me this week.
“But we didn’t achieve our main goal of winning a medal which is certainly a
On the other hand, as far as finals and top-10 finishes
go we did better than in the Beijing Games.”
Lustig rejected any
suggestion that the report should have been prepared by an external body and
claimed that Israeli sports’ biggest problem is its lack of depth.
are working with a vertical pyramid. We don’t have a wide enough base of
athletes,” he said.
“We rely on a very limited number of sportsmen and
sportswomen, so as soon as they are gone or not in shape we have no depth. This
is an ongoing problem. It is not as if we have won 800 medals down the years. We
have always relied on a small number of athletes and are left to try and work
magic with them.”
Perhaps the most important part of the Elite Sport
Department’s report is its recommendations ahead of Rio 2016.
“I think we
must continue with favoring certain sports,” Lustig said.
“It was proven
in the past four-year Olympic cycle that nurturing and prioritizing particular
sports results in success. Of the 31 medals we won in World and European
Championships in this cycle, 29 came from these sports. Seven of the eight
finals we reached in London were also in these sports, even with the lack of
success in sailing and judo.”
Despite the dejecting displays by almost
all the sailors and judokas in London, Lustig believes they should still receive
increased financial backing.
“These are sports that have proven
themselves down the years and we have a relative advantage in them,” he
explained. “Continuity is crucial. We need to continue to support them.
Likewise, we need to keep backing the athletics jumps project. We have young
talented jumpers who unfortunately suffered from injuries. Swimming and
gymnastics, which both did very well in London, also remain among our select
Unlike in previous years, the Elite Sport Department has also
suggested that certain events in some sports receive extra attention rather than
just a sport in general.
“I’m in favor of focusing on particular events
in which we have a relative advantage like foil in fencing, beach volleyball and
certain weight categories in taekwondo,” he said. “This is something we believe
As well as calling for an overhaul of the dilapidated infrastructure
at Hadar Yosef Stadium and the Wingate Institute, Lustig is crossing his fingers
that the different Olympic excellence bodies will soon all work together under
“Unfortunately, at the moment it is all divided. It is like a
High school operating without knowing what is going on in a Junior school and a
university not knowing how a High school functions,” he said. “We need to join
forces and lay out a complete vision. I hope that the OCI and Sports Ministry
will approve this. If they work together and set up this structure I think that
Israeli sports will look very different.”
A final decision on the matter
is expected to be made over the next couple of months.
of the mistakes of the past were clear for all to see in London.
sake of Israeli sports, lets at least hope that the right lessons have been
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