The cream of the crop of a marvelous 2010

By JERUSALEM POST SPORTS STAFF
December 17, 2010 04:17

Cast your vote for this year’s ‘Post’ Israeli Sports Personality award.




6 Sports Personality of 2010 nominees

Sports personality of 2010 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

It’s never easy to select the Israeli Sports Personality of the Year, but it’s rarely been this difficult to even pick the six nominees.

These have been 12 truly excellent months for Israeli sportsmen and women, both at home and abroad.

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Cast your vote: Who is the 2010 JPost Israeli Sports Personality of the Year?

Nimrod Mashiah brought Israel a bronze medal from the World windsurfing championships, while his compatriot Shahar Zubari claimed his second straight gold medal at the Europeans.

Gymnast Alex Shatilov bounced back from a serious knee injury to win two straight World Cup events in the floor exercise, while also finishing fourth in the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.

Veteran Arik Ze’evi proved he can still deliver the goods, taking his eighth career European Judo Championship medal. Israel even had success on the ice, with Alexandra and Roman Zaretsky finishing in an impressive 10th place in the Ice Dancing competition at February’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

We could go on and on, especially since we have yet to mention any of the six nominees.

However, as 2010 draws to a close, we are asking you, the readers, to help choose the individual who will be named the Jerusalem Post Israeli Sports Personality of the Year.

The Post’s sports department has managed to whittle the long list down and put together a shortlist of six athletes.

The winner, who will be revealed in the Post’s December 31 issue, will follow in the footsteps of Omri Casspi, who is hoping to retain the title he won last year, Paralympic swimming sensation Inbal Pezaro, who took first place in 2008, and Shahar Pe’er, the 2007 winner, who is also looking for her second award.

Readers can vote either by email at [email protected] or at www.jpost.com (Nominees are listed alphabetically)

OMRI CASSPI

Little was expected from Casspi when he made his debut for the Sacramento Kings late last October.

However, he surprised almost everyone by not only becoming the first Israeli to play in the NBA, but also developing into a key member of the Kings.

He continued his strong play at the start of 2010, averaging 12.2 points per game in January before dropping to 10.5 in February and 5.3 in March. He ended his first season in the NBA having played in 77 of Sacramento’s 82 games, starting 40 of them and averaging 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds.

After missing the previous year’s European Championships to prepare for the NBA draft, Casspi cemented his place as the star of the Israel national team over the summer, helping the blue-and-white advance to EuroBasket 2011 with 16.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Casspi has also handled Sacramento’s current struggles admirably, averaging 9.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 21 games so far this season, and for that alone deserves his nomination this year.

ELI GUTMAN

Three years ago, the career of the 52- year-old coach was badly floundering.

He had just left Cypriot side AEL Limassol and had agreed to take over an Hapoel Tel Aviv team mired in last position in the Premier League standings with six points from 11 matches.

Gutman ends 2010 as Israel’s No. 1 soccer coach after leading Hapoel to the league and State Cup double, and the Champions League group stage for the first time in club history.

After saving Hapoel from relegation in 2007/08 and leading it to a secondplace finish the following season, Gutman’s crowning moment arrived this year.

Three days after lifting the cup with a victory over Bnei Yehuda in the final, Tel Aviv snatched the championship in the most dramatic of fashions, with midfielder Eran Zahavi scoring the winning goal in stoppage time of the final match of the season against Betar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium.

Hapoel followed that up by reaching the group stage of European soccer’s most prestigious competition this season, ending a respectable campaign with five points, including a home victory over SL Benfica and a road draw at Olympique Lyon.

ODED KATASH


At just 36 years old, Oded Katash has completed his transformation from a playing legend to a coaching great.

His short stint at Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2007 would have derailed the careers of many coaches, but not Katash.

He returned to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil later that season to save it from relegation, and in May of this year, he exacted the ultimate revenge against his former – and quite likely – future employees.

His Gilboa team was the clear underdog to Pini Gershon’s Maccabi entering the Final Four title game, but Katash’s men outplayed the yellow-and-blue on the way to a comfortable victory and a second championship in club history.

After accomplishing all he could at Gilboa, Katash moved on to Hapoel Jerusalem in the past summer, and despite an erratic start to the 2010/11 campaign, few people would bet against him guiding his new team to success in the coming year.

GAL NEVO

The 23-year-old swimmer is nominated for a second straight year, a testimony to his consistency and improvement.

After going a decade without a medal at the European Swimming Championships, Gal Nevo gave Israel its second medal in the event in four days in August, finishing third in the 200-meter individual medley final in the last day of competition in Budapest.

Nevo, who won a bronze at the European Short Course Swimming Championships last December, also finished fourth in the 200m IM in Budapest and reached the final of the 400m IM at the short course worlds in Dubai just yesterday.

In his senior year at Georgia Tech, Nevo was also named the ACC Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive season, while finishing as the National Runner-Up in the 400IM for the second year in a row, earning All- American status.

SHAHAR PE’ER

After two years of ups and downs, 2010 saw Shahar Pe’er reclaim her place among the top female tennis players in the world.

The 23-year-old rocketed to number 15 in the world in 2007 while reaching two Grand Slam quarterfinals. But her rise this year to a current career-best of No. 13 was especially impressive as it came on the back of a crisis many players would have failed to overcome.

Pe’er dropped to No. 68 in the world in 2009, but recorded a career-best 47 wins and 21 losses this year. Pe’er entered the season with a 10-match losing streak against the top-10, but five of her 47 victories came against top-10 opponents, including a win against current No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Pe’er may have ended 2010 without a title, but she reached one final and six semifinals, including in the premier events in Dubai, Madrid and Beijing.

For the first time since 2007 she made the last 16 of two Grand Slam tournaments, advancing to the fourth round at Roland Garros and the US Open, while also amassing a career-best $1,122,052 this year.

A place in the top-10 is now within touching distance and once more there seems to be little that can stop the irresistible force that is Pe’er.

ARIE SELINGER

Not many people can take credit for singlehandedly resurrecting a sport, whether in Israel or elsewhere.

Arie Selinger can.

Women’s volleyball in Israel was in tatters until three years ago when the 73- year-old volleyball coach, who guided the US women’s team to a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics and the Dutch men’s side to a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games, was brought in to guide the blue-and-white and lead it back to the top.

Selinger instituted a rigorous training regimen of six days a week after selecting his 22 players, and after a couple of years of steady progress, the squad recorded its first major achievement in September, qualifying for the upcoming European Championships for the first time in 39 years.

A concentration camp survivor, Selinger arrived in Israel in the American Red Cross’s first boatload of immigrants and went on to become a national team volleyball player.

However, he earned his reputation in coaching and received worldwide recognition for his achievements in the US and the Netherlands, being inducted into the volleyball Hall-of-Fame in 1995.

In June 2007 he finally turned his attention back to Israeli volleyball once more, and the rest is history.


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