(photo credit: OLYMPIC COMMITTEE OF ISRAEL)
Ilana Kratysh claimed Israel’s first medal at the European Games on Monday, winning a second-place silver in the women’s 69-kilogram freestyle wrestling competition in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The 24-year-old, who missed much of the past year with a cruciate ligament knee injury, defeated London 2012 Olympic champion and former European champion, Natalia Vorobeva of Russia, in the semifinals, but couldn’t get the better of Alina Stadnik Makhynia of Ukraine in the final, losing 3-1.
Kratysh, who also won the silver medal at the European Championships in each of the previous two years, will receive a NIS 28,000 bonus from the Olympic Committee of Israel, with the wrestling events in Baku also acting as this year’s European Championships.
“I’m aware that this is an historic medal for Israel and it is a great honor,” said Kratysh, who has already turned her focus to September’s World Championships.
“I’ve been through a tough period and was very emotional after advancing to the final. On the one hand, this is very exciting, but on the other, I really wanted the gold medal,” she added.
Elsewhere Monday, gymnast Alex Shatilov secured his progress to another final in Baku, ending the all-around qualifiers in 11th place, with each country limited to one representative in the final. Shatilov registered an overall score of 83.965 in the qualifiers, recording a scores of 14.366 in the parallel bars, 13.4 in the high bar and 14.2 in the vault in the second day of competition.
The all-around final will take place on Thursday, with Shatilov to also compete in the individual floor final on Saturday.
“I’m feeling good and I hope to improve my results in the final,” said Shatilov.
Tzuf Feldon, 16, advanced to the women’s all-around final from 17th place on Monday with a score of 50.299. Feldon recorded 12.2 in the floor exercise and 12.966 in the beam to add to Sunday’s results.
Israel’s Sergey Richter and Leor Madlal can secure their progress to next year’s Rio Olympics when they compete in the men’s 10-meter air rifle event on Tuesday.
“I feel excellent and I’m confident,” said Richter, who represented Israel at London 2012. “My target is to win the gold medal as that will guarantee my place in Rio. It is about time I qualify as that will allow me to prepare for the Olympics without any pressure.”
If Richter and Madlal come up short on Tuesday, they will be able to set the criteria at next month’s European Championships, in a World Cup event in Azerbaijan later this year and next March’s European Championships.
Meanwhile, Patrick Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), says the opening days of the inaugural European Games have been “remarkable”.
The event on the shores of the Caspian Sea kicked off with an extravagant opening ceremony on Friday that cost an eye-watering $95 million and included an appearance from six-time Grammy Award winner Lady Gaga.
There has since been action in nine of the 20 sporting events and, although it is still at a fledgling stage, the medal table is topped by hosts Azerbaijan.
“It has been a remarkable debut for the European Games,” Hickey said in a statement on Monday.
“I am absolutely delighted with how the first few days of competition have gone.”Reuters contributed to this report.