(photo credit: AP)
The 73rd Israel Athletics Championships will get underway at Hadar Yosef Stadium on Wednesday, and for the first time in years the customary complaints about the quality of the track will no longer be heard from disgruntled athletes.
After competing on a crumbling track in the last few years, the athletes will run and jump on a brand-new surface that was just constructed over the past few months.
The participants will need to prove over the two-day championships that it was indeed the track, rather than their ability, which denied them from recording quality results in past years.
Pole-vaulter Alex Averbukh, one of Israel's greatest sportsmen, will be competing in his final Israeli championships and is hoping to delight the local supporters one last time.
"I hope to jump at least 5.70 meters," said Averbukh, who jumps on Thursday and will officially retire after competing in the World Championships in Berlin in August.
Averbukh's main competitors will be Russian Igor Pavlov, who has jumped 5.81m this year, and Israeli Yavgeniy Olhovsky, who has cleared 5.55m indoors this year.
One of the biggest attractions in the first day of the competition will be 16-year-old high jumper Dima Kroyter.
The jumping prodigy is one of the best in the world in his age group, clearing 2.21m last month.
Russian high jumpers Pavel Fomenko (2.32 PB) and Ivan Ilyichev (2.28 PB) will try and push Kroyter to new heights ahead of his main competition of the year, the World Youth Championship in Italy next week.
"My goal is to peak at the World Youth Championships, but I hope to record a new personal best at the Israeli championships," Kroyter said.
Also Wednesday, Israel's fastest men and women will compete in the 100m finals.