Israel Olympic team for this summer's Beijing Games announced

Pole vaulter Alex Averbukh to compete in his third Olympics; Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich are one of best medal hopefuls.

beijing olympics 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
beijing olympics 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel's 39-member delegation for the Beijing Olympics was announced on Monday, 46 days before the Games' opening ceremony. "We have come to the end of a very long process which began immediately after the Athens Olympics," Olympic Committee of Israel (OCI) Secretary General Efraim Zinger said at a press conference on Monday in Tel Aviv. "We have given all the athletes unprecedented support ahead of these Olympics. We are now entering the final stretch for the Beijing Games." There was only one surprise on the list of athletes who will carry the dreams and hopes of a nation with them to China. Shooter Guy Starik, who failed to meet the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) original criteria, will be part of the delegation after the IOC decided that the 43-year-old should be given a quota place for equaling the world record in the 50 meter rifle prone competition last month in Munich, shooting a perfect 600 score. This will be Starik's fourth Olympics. There are several athletes, who despite being named in the list, are still required to prove their form in the next couple months, as they met the criteria last year. Pole vaulter Alex Averbukh needs to jump 5.55 meters and will have a chance to do so at Hadar Yosef on Friday. High jumper Niki Palli is required to clear 2.27m, but there's a growing concern he won't manage to, following his poor performance in the European Cup in Bystrica, Slovakia, over the weekend. Palli, who has a personal best of 2.30m, could only jump 2.10m in Slovakia and needs a vast improvement quickly if he's to take part in the Olympics. Sailor Nofer Edelman, who competes in the Laser Radial Class, needs to finish among the top-12 in July's European Championships. The Israeli delegation is set to be equally split between men and women, mainly thanks to the Rhythmic Gymnastics, which is sending eight participants to the Games. Some of the more notable names on the list include: Judoka Arik Ze'evi, who will be competing in his third Olympics, hoping to win a medal for a second straight time, and Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, who have a good chance of making a triumphant run in Beijing. The youngest member of the Israeli delegation is 17-year-old Neta Rivkin, with 53-year-old marathon runner Haile Satayin the oldest. The IOC also announced on Monday that any sportsman who will set a new personal best at Beijing will receive a bonus of NIS 10,000. A winner of a gold medal will be awarded NIS 240,000.