Veteran Israeli judoka Ariel 'Arik' Zeevi 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
On the heels of one of Israel's greatest days in Olympics history, Israeli athletes largely disappointed Thursday, with judoka star Arik Ze'evi bowing out of competition early and tennis duo Ram and Erlich losing to their US competitors.
Arik Ze'evi's Olympic dream ended in just 43 seconds after he was stunned by Germany's Dimitri Peters in the first round of the judo under-100kg competition.
The 35-year-old Ze'evi, who won his fourth European title earlier this year, entered the 2012 Games with high hopes but saw them shattered within seconds of the start of his fourth and final Olympics.
"In my worst nightmares I hadn't envisioned such a scenario," a shocked Ze'evi said. "I never thought my Olympic career would end like this."
Even with the loss, Ze'evi, arguably Israel's greatest Olympian, became just the third Israeli to participate in four Olympic competitions.
President Shimon Peres called Ze'evi to console him on missing out on an Olympic medal. Peres, who experienced more than a few hard knocks in his long political career, told the Israeli judoka: "Arik don't let your spirits sag. People who win sometimes have to take a heavy blow."
Peres emphasized how much pride and honor Zeevi had brought to Israel in the past and added that the true test was not to give in to depression. "Take care of yourself. Look after your dignity. We're all proud of you. Don’t give up. Stay strong," Peres said.Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich bowed out of Olympic competition after losing to No. 1 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan in straight 7:6, 7:6 sets.
The loss came a day after the Israeli duo shocked Beijing 2008 gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka to enter the late phase of the tennis competition.
Israeli windsurfer Shahar Zubari remained in 10th place overall after being disqualified in the first race of the day and the fifth overall before finishing in 12th in Thursday's second race.
The saving grace for Israel remained Lee Korzits,
who continued to strengthen her position in the top three of the women's windsurfing competition in Weymouth.Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report