Television highlights

By
August 7, 2008 09:21
3 minute read.

AUGUST 14 Arik Ze'evi, judo, 100 kg. 7:00 to 11:30 qualifiers, 13:00 to 14:30 medal fights Perhaps Israel's best known Olympian, Ze'evi will be hoping to cap a marvelous career with a gold medal. Ze'evi beat Dutch opponent Elco Van Der Geest at the 2004 Athens Olympics to realize his lifelong dream of winning a medal, making up for the bitter disappointment of finishing fifth at the Sydney Games in 2000. At 31, Ze'evi is one of the older athletes in the team, and with injuries hindering the last few years of his career, Beijing could well be his last shot at Olympic glory. A three-time European champion, Ze'evi proved his world class credentials once more in April, winning a European bronze medal in Lisbon. Unlike four years ago, when he knew who is main opponents for the medals were, this time there are some 10 judokas who according to Ze'evi have a good chance of winning a medal in China. None of this, however, is deterring Ze'evi, who is setting his sights on ending August 14 with a gold medal around his neck. AUGUST 14 Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, tennis doubles 11:00 semifinals Ram and Erlich became household names after winning the Australian Open doubles tournament in January and will be under intense pressure to make another triumphant run in Beijing. In the 2004 Games, an inexperienced Ram and Erlich reached the quarterfinals, but this time around they will be entering the event as one of the favorites after solidifying their place as one of the top doubles teams in the world in recent years. Besides winning their first Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne, the duo has played in the Masters Cup, in which only the world's top eight doubles teams participate, in the last two years, and has also tasted victory more than once against Americans Bob and Mike Bryan, the No. 1 duo in the world and the favorites for gold. A victory in the semifinals on August 14 will guarantee Ram and Erlich a gold or silver medal, and assuming they reach the last four, will be one of the highlights of the Games for Israelis. AUGUST 18 Udi Gal and Gidi Kliger, 470 Class sailing 8:00-14:00 medal race Despite experiencing a tumultuous few months in the run-up to the Games, Gal and Kliger will settle for nothing less than a medal on August 18. The duo, which had high hopes ahead of the Athens Games as well but could only manage a 13th-place finish, will contest 10 races between August 11 to 16 and will be confident of finishing among the top 10 teams overall and advancing to the medal race. Gal and Kliger have consistently claimed medals at the World and European Championships in recent years, claiming bronze medals at the World Championships in each of the last three years and winning silver medals at the European Championships in 2001 and 2005. The duo did, however, almost miss out completely on the Games after Kliger failed a drug test in June after unknowingly taking the banned substance finasteride because of an anti-balding medication he was using. To their relief Kliger escaped with a reprimand, and the team's dream of an Olympic medal can still become a reality. AUGUST 22 Alex Averbukh, pole vault 14:00-17:27 final An expert at peaking at the right time, the 33-year-old will be looking to take advantage of the fact that the pole vault is one of the more unpredictable competitions on the athletics program and complete a magnificent career with another memorable moment at his final Olympic Games. Averbukh, who reached the final of the event in both the Sydney and Athens Olympics, finishing in 10th and eighth positions respectively, will be considered one of Israel's greatest athletes regardless of what he achieves in Beijing, thanks to his 2002 and 2006 European Championship titles. Born in Russia, Averbukh made aliya in 1999 and has since rewritten Israeli athletics record books. He hasn't competed much this year, saving himself for Beijing, and will need to first come through the qualifiers on August 20 to advance to the prestigious final two days later. The unpredictability of the pole vault meant that Averbukh was not willing to talk of his chances of a medal ahead of the Games. He does, however, believe a podium finish is within his ability and assuming he reaches the final, August 22 could yet prove to be a historic day for Israeli athletics.


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