Lee Korzits 311.
(photo credit: Richard Langdon/Perth 2011)
With less than six months to go until the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the
preparations for London 2012 are entering the final stretch.
overseeing Israel’s buildup is the director of the country’s Elite Sport
Department, Gili Lostig, and he is optimistic the delegation is going to meet
the targets set for it by the Olympic Committee of Israel.
Israeli sportsmen and women have already booked their flight to London and
around 10 more are set to do so – according to Lostig’s estimation – in the 177
days remaining until the Games get underway.
“If we compare the last two
years to the equivalent years before previous Olympics than our results are
certainly better,” Lostig told me on Tuesday.
“It is still too early to
talk about candidates for medals. I’m not one of those people who come out with
statements. However, I think that we should certainly meet the target we set
ourselves of winning at least one medal, having a first female medal winner
since 1992 and taking a medal in an event we have never won one in
There are swimmers, gymnasts and windsurfers among the 25
Israelis to have already secured their place in the Olympics, but there will not
be any Taekwondo fighters representing the country in the Games, which Lostig
acknowledges is a significant failure.
Taekwondo was one of six sports
together with athletics, swimming, windsurfing, judo and rhythmic gymnastics
earmarked by the OCI ahead of the Games.
The six preferred sports
received extra funding and support, hence the bitter frustration after no
Israeli managed to meet the criteria in the European Taekwondo Qualification
Tournament over the past weekend.
“It is a massive disappointment,”
“They reached some very nice achievements in recent
years, highlighted by Bat-El Gatterer’s European Championship gold medal in
“We knew that it would be difficult to reach the Olympic Taekwondo
events, with only 16 competitors taking part in Gatterer’s weight category for
“But we took that into account and knew that if we get a fighter
in we would have a good chance of winning a medal and that is one of the reasons
we chose this sport.
“But there’s no hiding from the fact that we failed
Another field in which Israelis have struggled for success is
Pole-vaulter Jillian Schwartz set the criteria this past
Saturday, but at the moment the only other Israeli to have secured his place in
the athletics competitions in London is marathon runner Zohar Zmiro.
“Unfortunately, Israeli sport is based on a very narrow pyramid foundation so
when a top sportsman retires, like Alex Averbukh in athletics, you are left with
a massive void,” Lostig explained.
“We decided to focus on the jumping
events in athletics and progress has certainly been made in recent years with
the likes of Danielle Frenkel and Dima Kroyter.
“Athletics is the ‘queen
of sports’ and the most important sport in the Olympic Games. Israel must also
target success on the biggest Olympic stage and not just in events in which it
has a relative advantage and might be slightly easier to do well in.
self-respecting sporting nation must do its best to do well in athletics. We
have, however, prioritized the different disciplines in athletics, focusing on
the jumping events as we have a tradition of succeeding in these competitions as
well as good coaches and good facilities. These are also more technical events
and we have a better chance of doing well in these competitions compared to ones
which depend completely on genetics like the sprints.”
Despite the lack
of achievements in athletics and the failure in Taekwondo, Lostig believes the
current system is the only way forward and has every confidence that it will pay
off in London in six months’ time.
“Between 80 to 90 percent of our
medals in target events over the last two years came from our preferred sports
so we are seeing results from our investments,” he said.
“This is the
only way to succeed in competitive sport.
“After the 1996 Atlanta
Olympics the Levine commission recommended to target only several sports,
because if you try and give everyone something you end up preserving
“In competitive sport you need to give a lot to the few to
succeed. That is the only way to do well. We are not social services. If
you are good and have a chance of doing well you will be rewarded.”firstname.lastname@example.org
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