Israeli swimmers 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Despite making history at the London Olympics last year, the 21-year-old Yakov
Toumarkin remains as hungry as ever for success as he enters this week’s
swimming World Championships in Barcelona.
Toumarkin recorded the best
ever result for an Israeli swimmer at the Olympics last summer when he ended the
200-meter backstroke final in seventh place, breaking the previous mark that
belonged to Eitan Urbach, who finished the 100m back final at the 2000 Sydney
Games in eighth position.
No Israeli swimmer has ever finished higher
than sixth in the World Championships and Toumarkin believes he will at least
reach the final in Barcelona, as long as he repeats the personal best time he
swam in London.
“I will be facing the same rivals as I did in London and
I expect to improve on my achievement in the Olympics,” Toumarkin said ahead of
the delegation’s departure for Spain. “I believe that if I repeat my record I
will be in the final again. I’m sure that all our swimmers will want to show
that they have improved since London.”
Besides Toumarkin, Israel has sent
seven more swimmers to Barcelona: Guy Barnea, Jonatan Kopelev, Imri Ganiel, Gal
Nevo, Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or, Tomer Zamir and the only female on the team, Amit
Ivry, Ganiel and Zamir will all already swim in the opening day on
Until Toumarkin burst onto the scene, Gal Nevo was regarded as
Israel’s best swimmer, and despite recently taking a back seat to the young
prodigy, he remains one of the country’s top Olympic athletes.
both the 200m and 400m individual medley events in London in a very respectable
10th place. He also added to his major medal collection last November when he
picked up two bronzes in his favorite events at the European Short Course
Swimming Championships in Chartres, France.
“My goal is simple. I want to
improve my personal bests and hopefully rank as high as possible,” said the
After standing side-by-side on the podium at last year’s
long-course European Championships, Jonatan Kopelev and Guy Barnea are both
targeting a place in the final of the 50m backstroke in
Kopelev became the first Israeli swimmer to win a gold medal
in the continental championships last May, and Barnea joined him on the podium
after finishing in third place.
Nevertheless, both Kopelev and Barnea
ended up missing the London Games. The unlucky Kopelev had his appendix removed
shortly before the Olympics, while Barnea failed to qualify for the 100m back,
with the 50m backstroke not being an Olympic event.
“Kopelev and I have
already made history in the European Championships and hopefully we can make
more by reaching the final in the worlds,” said Barnea. “I finished the 50m back
final in sixth place two years ago and I hope to improve on
Expectations from Ganiel, Shapira Bar-Or and especially youngster
Zamir are not that high. However, after becoming the first Israeli female
swimmer to advance to an Olympic semifinal in London, Ivry is hoping for further
success when she swims the 100m butterfly on Sunday.
“I’m assuming that
all our swimmers will swim personal bests and each of them can reach at least a
semifinal if they do so,” said national team coach Leonid Kaufman.
must always be optimistic.”