OCI satisfied with Israeli performance

Despite failures of Ze'evi, Averbukh et al, Olympic Committee of Israel says things went as expected.

olympic promo 224 (photo credit: )
olympic promo 224
(photo credit: )
Despite the general sense of failure, the Olympic Committee of Israel is pleased with the delegation's performance at the Beijing Olympics. The rhythmic gymnasts and marathon runner Haile Satayin are the only Israelis still competing as the Games moves into its final weekend, and the only medal won so far has been Shahar Zubari's windsurfing bronze. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Olympic Committee of Israel Secretary General Efraim Zinger and the director of Israel's Elite Sport Department, Gili Lostig, claimed that when looking at the overall picture the delegation performed as expected. "The most important fact is that for the fifth consecutive Olympics we have maintained our place in the very prestigious club of medal winning nations," Zinger said. "It may have been much tougher this time due to the improvement of the Asians, and especially China, but we once more met this goal." The biggest disappointments of the Games were the poor performances by the OCI's top medal prospects. Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich lost in the first round of the doubles tournament, judoka Arik Ze'evi won just one of his three fights, and Udi Gal and Gidi Kliger finished the 470 Class sailing competition in 14th position. Those failures, however, shouldn't be allowed to erase the positives of the Games, Lostig said. "In some events we did very well and in some events we didn't do so well, but our expectations were to claim one medal and reach between six and eight finals and I think we will be close to that," he said. "Of course, there was a sense of disappointment in some of the events, but overall around 50 percent of the athletes performed as we predicted. "Our medal favorites Ram and Erlich, Ze'evi and Gal and Kliger didn't succeed and obviously that caused a sense of disappointment. But our country is one which swings rapidly from black to white and from euphoria to depression. "We need to take the results in proportion." According to Lostig, Israeli sport has much bigger problems than the failure of the delegation's favorites in Beijing. "The sporting infrastructure is in shambles and the different clubs are collapsing," he said. "The OCI protects the top athletes the best it can and they did their best, but you can't always succeed." Lostig was, however, keen to emphasize that there were some accomplishments, and not just Shahar Zubari's bronze medal. "We did well in certain events. The sailing competitions went very well and so did the swimming. In the Artistic Gymnastics we also succeeded. We have no regrets about any of the athletes we sent as they all met very tough criteria. "This is also a changing of the guard delegation. Some 23 of the 43 athletes are under 23-years-old and that's an amazing fact. "This means we have a young group of sportsmen which is replacing the older generation and this group will blossom in London 2012." Unsurprisingly, Zinger agreed with his colleague's words, saying he believes that Israel has nothing to be ashamed of. "All of the athletes who competed in Beijing deserved to be here," he said. "Some did well and some didn't do so well. But all in all, I think the people of Israel can be proud of their delegation."