Judoka Ze'evi lasts just 43 seconds in Olympics

35-year-old Ze'evi enteres 2012 Games with high hopes but falls to German Dimitri Peters in the 1st minute of the 1st round.

August 2, 2012 22:38
1 minute read.
Veteran judoka Ariel 'Arik' Zeevi rests

Veteran Israeli judoka Ariel 'Arik' Zeevi 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)


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Arik Ze'evi's fourth and final Olympics lasted just 43 nightmarish seconds on Thursday.

The 35-year-old Ze’evi, who won his fourth European title earlier this year, entered the 2012 Games with high hopes, but had them shattered within the first minute of his first round.

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German Dimitri Peters was supposed to be an easy opening hurdle for the Israeli in the under-100kg competition, but he almost immediately managed to pin Ze’evi to the mat, eventually forcing him to raise his hand in submission.

“In my worst nightmares I hadn’t envisioned such a scenario,” a shocked and emotionally overcome Ze’evi said. “I never thought my Olympic career would end like this.

“I don’t know if this was a result of me being overconfident or of the German’s skills on the mat. This is a massive disappointment. I made a mistake and I paid for it.”

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Ze’evi, a bronze medalist from Athens 2004, became just the third Israeli to participate in four Olympics on Thursday, but he has no plans of competing in Rio 2016, although he has yet to make up his mind regarding retirement.

“I will take a break for a couple of months and make a decision,” he said. “Physically I feel fine, but I’m mentally drained. This was my final Olympic fight and I can’t believe it ended like this. I’m still trying to understand how this could happen.”

The lofty status Ze’evi has acquired in Israeli society over the years was evident by the fact that both President Shimon Peres and Sport and Culture Minister Limor Livnat called to console him.

Peres who experienced more than a few hard knocks in his long political career, told Ze’evi: “Arik don’t let your spirits sag. People who win sometimes have to take a heavy blow.”

Peres emphasized how much pride and honor Ze’evi had brought to Israel in the past and added that the true test was not to get discouraged.

“I learned this from my own experience,” said Peres.

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