Humble fighter looks to take on Beijing

Bat-El Getterer who will head to Beijing this August to represent Israel in Taekwondo.

Olympic torch  (photo credit: )
Olympic torch
(photo credit: )
Bat-El Getterer, who will head to Beijing this August to represent Israel in Taekwondo, quietly sets herself apart from her rivals. "Compared to other athletes, she is very nice and humble," her coach, Noa Shmida said. "You'd never guess she is a martial arts champion, and that makes her accomplishments all that more impressive." Getterer, who competes in the 50-57 kilogram division, began training in Taekwondo at the age of 11 after her trainer in a general martial arts program recommended her. "While in the army, I started focusing on Taekwondo and turning it into a profession," Getterer told the Jerusalem Post. Her gamble paid off: she placed third in the European finals in Istanbul last month, a win that earned her a place in the Olympics. Still, she is staying modest in the face of the big challenge to come. "Basically, I have to improve everything," she said of her preparations for Beijing. "Speed, strength, mental work, everything. We try to arrive as prepared as we can be." Getterer trains twice a day, six days a week in Ahi Yehuda club, located in Betar Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium. "I train because I love Taekwondo, and right now it's kind of taking over my life, but it's what I love doing and nothing else matters," she said. The oldest of six children in an religiously observant family, Getterer hails from Cohav Ya'akov and is the only settler in this year's delegation. "My family is really supportive and appreciating. I have all their support, and they do everything to help me succeed," Getterer said. "I get all the support I need, from Noa, my family, the Olympic team and the training club. I'm hoping to represent the country with pride." Shmida, a former Taekwondo competitor herself, who also trained at Ahi Yehuda reflected on her own career. "The big goal was the Olympics, and after I did not qualify for Sydney and Athens, I decided to stop, to retire from the sport." Shmida began studying law and coached for extra income. She then moved on to coach Getterer's group, the most elite group at Ahi Yehuda. Getterer has mental strength that is imperative to winning, Shmida said. "She always aspires to win, regardless of who, how and why. She always believes in herself and that she can win, which is a very important mental quality." "She has the qualities found in competitors of the highest level. She is very, very strong, and can do almost anything in fights," Shmida continued. With only three months left until Beijing, Getterer and Shmida are finalizing specific maneuvers. "We know who her competitors will be in the Olympics, so the final preparations are not for basics, but for specific maneuvers against specific competitors," Shmida said. Because every division in Taekwondo has only 16 competitors, as many as the semi-finals of some other events, predicting winners is more difficult. "Even the world champion can't come into the Olympics saying she will bring home the gold," Shmida said. Asian competitors, Koreans in particular, will likely be fierce challenges because they had to win more fights in order to get a ticket to the Olympics. "To fight a Korean competitor, because Taekowndo is from Korea, is difficult when it comes to the judges. I'm not hesitant to say there are also politics involved," Shmida remarked. Avi Kadouri, Getterer's co-coach and owner of the Ahi Yehuda club, said perseverance brought her to a high level. "She arrived like every other boy or girl with an interest in martial arts. She was looking for the competitive side of the sport," Kadouri said. "She was a regular athlete who did not really stand out. With time, she advanced." Nine years later, Getterer's dedication began to bear fruit. "In our club, those who persist are the ones who bring results. She persisted, and with her accomplishments, got financial support from the Israeli Taekwondo Union," Kadouri pointed out. Kadouri, who also trained Shmida, said a strong attitude is vital in athletics. "There's pressure, there's nothing to do about that. You see this in soccer: the best players in the world step up for penalty kicks and kick like a six-year-old kid," Kadouri said. But he believes that Getterer is not phased in stressful situations. "You don't see her get emotional or nervous. Sometimes you see high-level athletes panic and lose focus, but you can see she is serene. In Istanbul, during the match that decided if she was going to the Olympics, I was more nervous than she was." Kadouri believes that it is this that sets Getterer apart from her competitors. "She's not the type who shows off, she's very humble. That's one of her best qualities. Like they say, still waters run deep," Kadouri said.