London Diary: For Alice Schlesinger the time is now

Four years for a split second. At the end of the day that is what it is all about in many Olympic sports.

London olympics 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
London olympics 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Four years for a split second.
At the end of the day that is what it is all about in many Olympic sports.
Sure, there are World and European Championships, but no child falls asleep at night fantasizing about those.
It is Olympic glory that everyone craves.
In the depths of despair, when each second of training is torture and the pain just doesn’t seem worthwhile, it is the Olympic dream that keeps them going.
The dream to shine on the biggest stage of them all, to peak when it matters most, to be crowned the best in the moment of truth.
For Israeli judoka Alice Schlesinger, that moment arrives on Tuesday.
This is it.
A lifetime of dedication faces the ultimate test.
True, the 24-year-old may not be contesting her final Olympics, but there is little doubt she will ever get a better chance to win a medal, a better opportunity at sporting immortality.
She has either got what it takes or she hasn’t.
It’s a stark reality, but that is the life of an Olympian, especially in the cruel sport of judo.
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A loss of concentration for a split second and you will find yourself on your back, out of the competition, wondering why you ever signed up for such a life.
That sickening feeling is the nightmare of every athlete.
It will feel even worse for Schlesinger if she stumbles on Tuesday as she knows there is simply no excuse for failure.
A first round bye means Schlesinger, a former World and European championships medalist, will begin her competition in the last 16, three wins from the podium.
In the second round of the under-63 kg competition, Schlesinger will face the winner of the encounter between Hilde Drexler and Rizlen Zouak.
Drexler is the favorite to advance and Schlesinger will not be looking forward to facing her, losing all three of her career meetings against the Austrian, including twice last year in the World and European Championships.
But realistically, Schlesinger, ranked No. 4 in the world, could not have asked for a better draw, with Drexler currently placed at No. 16.
World No. 5, Urska Zolnir, is Schlesinger’s likely opponent in the quarters, a tested veteran, but one Schlesinger has beaten in two of their last three meetings.
A place in the semis guarantees Schlesinger at least two chances at glory, with the semifinal losers to fight for a bronze medal in the repechage.
Schlesinger has always had the talent and in recent years she has also gained valuable experience, tasting glory time and again in major competitions.
She has waited all her life for Tuesday and now the time has arrived to realize her promise.
It will either be a total triumph or a complete catastrophe.
There is nothing in between for Schlesinger.
She will either realize her deepest desires or regret this day for the rest of her life.
And all shall be decided in a blink of an eye. Four years for a split second.