Dorozhon facing Olympic moment of truth

With the opening ceremony only five days away, javelin thrower looks to join Israeli delegation to Rio.

Israeli javelin thrower Marharyta Dorozhon will have one last opportunity to book her place at the Rio Olympics when she competes tonight at Hadar Yosef Stadium in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli javelin thrower Marharyta Dorozhon will have one last opportunity to book her place at the Rio Olympics when she competes tonight at Hadar Yosef Stadium in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Many of Israel’s representatives to the Rio Olympics have already arrived in Brazil, but the blue-and-white delegation will only be officially final on Sunday night, five days before the opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium.
Javelin thrower Marharyta Dorozhon will have one final opportunity to book her spot in Rio and take Israel’s delegation to a record 48 athletes when she goes in search of a throw beyond 60 meters at Hadar Yosef Stadium in Tel Aviv on Sunday night.
Dorozhon set the IAAF Qualifying Standard for Rio last year, but according to the regulations laid out by the Olympic Committee of Israel, she is required to register a throw of over 60 meters in 2016 in order to secure her place at the Olympics.
The Ukrainian-born Dorozhon, who became an Israeli citizen in 2014, has struggled with a groin injury all year, and while she has managed to return to competition over the past month, she has come nowhere near the distance she must clear until Sunday. Her best attempt to date was a throw of a mere 48.75 meters recorded at Hadar Yosef last Wednesday.
Even without Dorozhon, the delegation to Rio will be the largest in Israel history, with the previous record of 43 athletes being set in Beijing eight years ago.
While Dorozhon continues to fight for her place until the very last moment, her colleagues continued to make their way to Rio over the weekend.
Swimmer Gal Nevo flew out on Saturday, while the men’s 470 Class sailing team of Eyal Levin and Dan Froyliche will begin the long journey on Sunday.
Around a quarter of the delegation is already in Brazil, including the entire women’s judo team, windsurfers Shahar Zubari and Maayan Davidovich and gymnast Alex Shatilov.
Yarden Gerbi, Shira Rishony, Gili Cohen and Linda Bolder, who will represent Israel in the women’s judo events, flew initially to Sao Paulo for a short training camp before relocating to the Olympic Village.
While other delegations have complained about the state of the athlete accommodation in the village, Olympic Committee of Israel Secretary General Gili Lustig said there were hardly any issues with the rooms allocated to the Israeli delegation and those problems will all be fixed by the time the athletes arrive.
“We are arriving in Rio after a long and difficult campaign. We are really ready and all that is left is to do our best,” said women’s national team coach Shany Hershko. “The girls are in good physical condition, perhaps the best they have ever been. I’m optimistic things will fall into place in Rio.”
Israel’s male judokas will leave for Rio this week, including Sagi Muki, last year’s European champion in the under-73kg category, who has been suffering from a back injury over recent weeks.
“Over the past three weeks we have been dealing with pain that has slowed down Muki in training ahead of the Rio Olympics,” said men’s national team coach Oren Smadja.
“He’s on the mend, and after three nerve-wracking weeks, I can now say that he will be ready to compete in Rio.”
After finishing the floor final in eighth place in Beijing 2008 and in sixth position in London 2012, Shatilov believes he is capable of claiming a medal in Rio.
“I’m in excellent shape and I have just one goal, to win a first medal at the Olympics,” said the former World and European Championship medalist.
“I will settle for nothing less.”
Zubari and Davidovich are also targeting a place on the podium.
“I expect to win a medal,” said Zubari, who took a bronze in Beijing 2008 but hasn’t medaled in a major competition in three years.
“My goal is of course to win a medal,” added Davidovich. “I will do my best and hopefully that will be enough.”