London Diary: Where do we go from here?

Matters look bleak now, but they will seem far worse should Israel fail to medal again in 4 years time.

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
August 8, 2012 06:45
3 minute read.
Synchronised swimmers A. Gloushkov,  I. Yoffe

synchronised swimmers Anastasia Gloushkov and Inna Yoffe 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Michael Dalder)

 
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I’d almost forgotten how it felt.

Ending the Olympic Games without a medal was something I thought belonged to the past of Israeli sport.

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Well, it is part of the present, and far more worryingly, could be a recurring theme in the future.

Lee Korzits’s failure to win a medal in the women’s windsurfing competition on Tuesday, falling from second to sixth place in the final day of the event in Weymouth, ended any realistic hope Israel had of reaching the podium at London 2012, six days before the closing ceremony.

A food poisoning epidemic among Neta Rikvin’s rivals in the rhythmic gymnastics competition could still see Israel take a medal, while a flash flood in the marathon washing away all of Zohar Zemiro’s opponents could also allow him to scale the podium.

But assuming neither of those scenarios actually materializes, Israel is going to fail to bring home any hardware from the Olympics for the first time since Yael Arad took the country’s first at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

There were those who had the ability to win a medal but simply failed and others who realized their potential but were not good enough to finish in the top three to start with.

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Obviously, every one in the delegation gave their all, but sometimes that is just not enough.

The post-mortem of what exactly happened in the London Games will soon begin and Israeli sport must learn from what went wrong over the past couple of weeks to make sure it wins at least one medal in Rio 2016 and future Games.

Matters may be looking bleak at the moment, but they will seem far worse should Israel fail to medal again in four years time.

One of the main people who will have plenty of questions to answer in the coming weeks and months is the director of Israel’s Elite Sport Department, Gili Lostig.

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He has overseen Israel’s professional preparations for the past five Olympics and is deeply concerned about the future of Israeli sport.

“We had three main targets and we failed to achieve all of them,” he said on Tuesday.

“We aimed to win a medal again, to win a medal in a sport we never managed to previously, and to have a female medal winner for the first time since Yael Arad. Korzits could have accomplished two of those goals, but ultimately we achieved none of them.

“Everyone should bear responsibility for this failure and this is a personal failure for me as the man in charge of all professional matters.”

Lostig feels he knows what the route cause is to the persisting problems of Israeli sports.

“We need to significantly improve the sporting infrastructure in the country,” he said. “We need to give every child at least one after school sporting activity for free.

“We had a top quality delegation in London and I have no complaints towards any of the athletes.

“We have a very limited pool of athletes in Israel and that is one of the main problems which needs to be solved. The likes of Arik Ze’evi, sailor Vered Bouskila and Ram and Erlich are all at the end of their careers and we will struggle to replace them.

“I have no words which can describe how disappointed we are. This delegation was worth at least one medal.”

That may be true, but the fact of the matter is that the Israeli team will return home empty handed.

But worst of all, there is not even any reason for optimism.

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