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Scouts from the Olympic Committee of Israel were on hand at the national kayaking championships in Tiberias this weekend, keeping an eye out for potential future Olympic athletes.
"We are responsible for preparing national teams," said Dr. Vladimir Issurin, who works with the OCI and also at the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sport. "We are ambitious to be successful in the national competitions and there are several hopefuls here today."
One hundred and twenty men and women, aged 12-34, competed in three categories: singles (K1), doubles (K2) and four-man row (K4). Israel will be competing in the four-man row for the first time at the July 7-9 European Championships.
The national team's Roei Yellin of Hapoel Tel Aviv placed first in the men's K1 500m race Friday, ahead of younger Roy Lev of Emek Hayarden.
"I expected to win today," said Yellin minutes after the race. "There are a lot of young guys coming up in the sport and I am glad that it was a junior that was second place."
Yellin, who will be competing in the K1 and K4 at the European Championships, leaves Sunday for Heinz Finkel, Belgium, to train. He saw the national championships as more training for next month.
"I hope to do well - better than last year," said Yellin, who finished fifth in 2005. "To make it to the finals is my goal right now."
Yellin and Alex Berger placed second in the men's K2 500m behind young Barak Lopen of Emek Hayarden and veteran Michael Kolganov on Saturday.
Larissa Peisakhovitch of Emek Hayarden finished ahead of Hapoel Tel Aviv's Lior Carmi - an 11-time champion - and Adi Gafni in the women's 500m K1.
Peisakhovitch and Gafni fell into the water right before the finish line in the women's K1 200m final. Niv Yehudah from Emek Hayarden won the race, followed by Lior Carmi and Dana Mamragev, both from Hapoel Tel Aviv.
"[The youngster Niv] was in first with about 50 meters left and Larissa and Adi were in a battle for second," explained Arieh Weissman, the finish line judge who is a member of the National Kayaking Association.
"Right before the finish line there was a wave, their paddles may have gotten tangled or something like that, and they both collapsed and the youngster takes first place."
Kolganov won the men's K1 200m and K1 500m races, while Lopen finished in second in the K1 200m and third in the K1 500m. Two of Lopen's Emek Hayarden clubmates placed third: Lev Eran in the 200m and Alex Berger in the 500m.
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