Mandel breaks national record but fails to reach semis

Achievement comes 4 days after father's death; Bar-Or, Guy Barnea finish 15 and 16 in their respective swims.

mandel 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
mandel 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Just four days after the tragic death of his father, Alon Mandel broke the Israeli record in the 200 meters butterfly in Beijing, displaying unimaginable mental strength. Mandel lost his father Kostya after he fell off a ladder at the garden of his home in Netanya, but decided nevertheless to remain at the Games after hearing of the news on Thursday to fulfill the dream of his greatest supporter. On Monday, he did exactly that and with his time of 1:59.27 minutes set a new national record and finished in a respectable 28th place overall. "At the end of the swim I raised my finger to the sky and pointed to my father," said an emotional Mandel, who will return to Israel on Thursday after swimming the 100m fly. "I'm proud that I swam at these Olympics. The easiest thing to do was to break down and drag all the other swimmers with me, but I'm postponing that until I return to Israel. "I could have swan better, but I realized my potential. My expectations were slightly higher, but I met my first goal which was to break my personal best. "The first thing I'll do when I get home is hug my mother and sister." In other Israeli swimming news, Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or and Guy Barnea failed to repeat their record-breaking performances from the heats in the semifinals on Monday, but were pleased with their showings nevertheless. Bar-Or, who improved his personal best by almost a second on Sunday to reach the semis, clocked a time of 1:48.16 minutes in the 200-meter freestyle on Monday to finish last in his semi and 15th overall. "A lot of people were stunned by my performance on Sunday," said Bar-Or, who will race in the 100m free heats on Tuesday. "The fact that I reached the semifinals is an excellent achievement. No one expected anything from me, but my aim was always to reach the semis. My goal on Monday was to try and finish among the top eight and advance to the final, but the body doesn't always respond as you want it to." Barnea also finished his semi in last position, touching the wall after 54.93 seconds in the 100m backstroke to come in 16th place out of the 16 semifinalists. "I trained in the last few months to swim my very best in the evenings and I'm not used to racing in the morning. My initial goal was to reach the semifinals and I achieved that," said Barnea, who swan 43 hundredths of a second faster on Sunday. "Obviously, I wanted to finish in a better time, but I'm not disappointed. I gave all I had. I would love to do better, but it didn't happen." Of the swimming team's excellent performance so far, Barnea said: "I believe that we can win medals at European Championships in coming years, but at the Olympics we need to first focus on reaching finals." Bar-Or, who finished on Monday 38 hundredths of a second slower than in the heats, believes, however, that Israel will win an Olympic swimming medal in the not-too-distant future. "People thought that the big swimming team to these Games lacked quality so we decided to show everybody that is not the case," he said. "I believe that it's only a matter of time until we win an Olympic medal in the swimming. If you don't believe it can happen, it never will."