Jerusalem honors local Olympians

City of Jerusalem honors Israel's Jerusalem-based Olympians at a city hall ceremony.

olympics 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
olympics 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Thirty seven days before they march into Beijing's Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of this summer's Games, the city of Jerusalem honored Israel's Jerusalem-based Olympians at a ceremony at city hall. The more than 20 athletes present were presented with awards to recognize their achievements in international competitions. Uri Menachem, Director of the Jerusalem Sports Authority explained, "We want to give gratitude to the Olympians that will represent Jerusalem in Beijing. We want to show our support." Martial artist Bat-El Gaterer trains at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium. She attended the ceremony along with her coach and numerous teammates from her taekwondo team, Ahi Yehudah. Looking forward to her first Olympic Games, the 20-year-old Gaterer, said she is, "nervous and excited." "I am very proud to represent my country, my sport, and my club." Being able to represent Israel is a dream come true for Gaterer. "I never thought it would happen. It is the dream of every athlete, but you never think it will become a reality," she added. Anastasia Gloushkov, a synchronized swimmer, will be competing at her second Olympic games along with partner Inna Yoffe. After finishing in 16th place in Athens four years ago, Gloushkov said she hopes she will be able to have a more pleasurable experience this time around. "This time I can enjoy the experience a lot more. You have a lot more nerves your first time. When you don't know what to expect, it's a lot bigger than you might think," she said. Still, Gloushkov is well aware that there is much work to be done. "This is the most difficult part," she said, as all the hard work they have done for the last four years now becomes ever more crucial. Gal Nevo, a swimmer and first-time Olympian, claimed he is neither excited nor anxious about the upcoming games. "I'm very overwhelmed," he said. All of the Israeli athletes are able to enter the Beijing games as no other Israeli team has done before - with an Olympic gold medal in the trophy case. A gold medal, once considered impossible to an Israeli, became a reality with another Gal, windsurfer Gal Fridman who won Israel's first gold medal at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, Greece. "Anything is possible," Nevo said. "Maybe one of the Israelis can win the gold, but not me," he added jokingly. "We just have to hope for the best." On a day that the terrorist attack in downtown Jerusalem was freshly on the minds of everyone in the room, Uri Menachem urged that now is the time to work harder, and to aim higher. After all, with any hope Israelis will be singing Hatikva as the flag is raised for an Israeli gold medalist in a few weeks time.