Long days, quick exits for Israeli Olympians

Pe’er dispatched by world No. 3 Sharapova 6-2, 6-0; Gymnast Maksiuta falls three times.

Shahar Pe’er 370 (photo credit: Mike Blake/Reuters)
Shahar Pe’er 370
(photo credit: Mike Blake/Reuters)
LONDON – Shahar Pe’er’s second Olympics lasted just 65 minutes after she dropped to a 6-2, 6-0 defeat to world No. 3 Maria Sharapova in the first round of the women’s singles at Wimbledon.
The 25-year-old Israeli believed the final score-line didn’t do her justice, and that may be so, but she never came close to threatening Sharapova and was at the Russian’s complete mercy throughout the match.
“Obviously I’m disappointed because I lost, but I think the match was a little closer than the score-line indicates,” Pe’er said.
“I had my chances and gave my best, fighting until the last point. I really believed I could win.
“But she is one of the best players ever and you have to give her the respect she deserves.”
Despite the deflating defeat, Pe’er cherished every moment of the Olympic experience.
“I’m proud to represent Israel each and every time I am given the opportunity,” she said. “Four years is a long time, but I really hope I will be able to take part in another Olympics.”
Pe’er broke Sharapova in the first game of the match, but she gifted the Russian a break back immediately and lost her serve twice more in the first set, sending a forehand long to lose 6-2.
A Pe’er double fault in the second game of the second set handed Sharapova an early break after which the Russian quickly wrapped up proceedings.
As painful as Pe’er’s loss may have been, it pales in comparison to the agony felt by gymnast Valeriia Maksiuta on Sunday.
The 24-year-old, who made aliya from Ukraine five years ago, fell off the beam twice and lost her balance on the final landing, falling backwards.
She also lost her handling once in the uneven bars and eventually recorded a poor overall result of 45.699 points.
“I worked really hard to get here, but I just couldn’t do it,” a shocked Maksiuta said.
“I can’t explain what happened here. This is undoubtedly the biggest disappointment I have experienced in my life.
“I’m in shock and I don’t even want to go home.”
There was also disappointment for the Israeli delegation in the pool, with Yakov Toumarkin and Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or both coming no where near their personal bests and failing to advance to the semifinals.
Toumarkin, who became the first Israeli to win two medals in a single European Championship in May, would have advanced to the 100- meter backstroke semis had he equaled his national record of 54.14 seconds. But he came up well short, clocking a time of 54.91s to finish in 24th place overall in his first Olympics.
“I’m disappointed. I don’t know how to explain this,” the 20-year-old Toumarkin said.
“I didn’t feel good right from the start. This was my first ever Olympic swim and it lifted a lot of pressure.
“I hope that this will help me when I compete in the 200m backstroke. My goal remains to reach an Olympic semi.”
Shapira Bar-Or ended the men’s 200m freestyle in 21st place in a time of 1:48.60 minutes.
“I’m not that disappointed,” said Bar-Or, who reached the 200m free semis in Beijing four years ago.
“I recorded a season’s best time, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough because there are many quick youngsters who deserve a lot of credit.”
Like Bar-Or, Misha Zilberman’s Olympics also came to an end on Sunday when he suffered his second straight defeat in the Badminton tournament.
Zilberman finished bottom of Group I after suffering a 21-9, 21-15 loss to Derek Wong on Sunday, a day after falling 21-13, 21-12 to Denmark’s Jan O. Jorgensen.
Zilberman and judoka Golan Pollack will already be turning their focus to Rio 2016 after Pollack lost to France’s David Larose in the first round of the under-66kg competition early Sunday.
After youngsters Pollack and Tommy Arshanski failed to make their mark in the first two days of the judo competitions, Soso Palelashvili enters the frame on Monday when he faces Turkey’s Sezar Huysuz in the last 32 of the under-73kg event.
The bronze medalist from the recent European Championships was handed a first round bye and comes up against a beatable opponent for a place in the last 16.
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Matters will be getting far more complicated after that, but Palelashvili will be focusing on one fight at a time.
Israel’s only shooter in London, Sergey Richter, opens his account on Monday in his signature event, the 10m air rifle.
The 23-year-old finished sixth in the event at this year’s European Championships and has fond memories of the Olympic venue after ending the World Cup event at the Royal Artillery Barracks in second place.
Monday will also see Israel’s first sailor get in on the action in Weymouth, with Nufar Edelman to compete in the first two races of the Laser Radial event.