Dudi Sela claimed his 20th ATP Tour Challenger circuit title yesterday, lifting the winner’s trophy in Shenzhen, China.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dudi Sela will become the first Israeli tennis player since 1992 to take part in the men’s singles event at the Olympics in Rio this summer despite falling six places to No. 68 in the world on Monday.
Only the top 56 in Monday’s decisive ATP rankings are to receive direct acceptance to the 2016 Rio Games, but Sela made the cut as each country is only allowed to send four representatives.
The last Israeli man to represent the country at the Olympic singles tournament was Gilad Bloom at Barcelona 1992. Anna Smashnova (2004), Tzipi Obziler (2004) and Shahar Pe’er (2008, 2012) have all taken part in the women’s singles since, with Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich playing in the doubles tournament in each of the past three Olympics.
The 31-year-old Sela became the 45th member of Israel’s biggest ever delegation to the Olympics, two more than the previous record set in Beijing 2008.
The delegation is also set to continue and grow over the coming weeks, with golfer Laetitia Beck all but certain to qualify. Beck sits in 42nd place in the Olympic rankings, with the top 59 on July 11 to book a berth in Rio.
Israel’s swimmers also have until July 3 to set a qualifying time in a sanctioned event.
Sela, who lost to Dustin Brown in the first round of Roland Garros, will play in the grass tournament in Den Bosch this week.
Meanwhile, the Olympic Committee of Israel announced on Sunday that every Israeli gold medal winner will be awarded a NIS 500,000 bonus, as well as an apartment worth NIS 1,000,000 from one of the OCI’s sponsors. His coach will receive NIS 250,000 (50%), the coaching staff NIS 50,000 (10%), with his association and club to get NIS 25,000 (5%).
Any Israeli silver medalist will be awarded NIS 400,000, with his coach to get half the sum, coaching staff 10 percent and association and club five percent. Bronze medalists will receive NIS 250,000, with the coach to get half the sum, coaching staff 10 percent and association and club five percent.
Athletes from Israel who finish between fourth and 12th place will also be awarded performance bonuses