Olympics: Bar-Or plans to make most of chance in Beijing pool

Despite having a less than ideal preparation period, the 19-year-old swimmer is setting himself lofty goals.

Bar-or 88 (photo credit: )
Bar-or 88
(photo credit: )
The 43rd and last athlete to join the Israeli delegation to the Beijing Games, Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or, arrived in China on Tuesday morning full of hope. And right from the start he made it clear that there will be no excuses if he doesn't at least live up to his own expectations. The 19-year-old swimmer only found out last Thursday that he had been given the chance to compete in his first Olympics. But despite having a less than ideal preparation period, he is setting himself lofty goals. "There were many moments I thought I would never get the chance to compete in Beijing," Bar-Or told The Jerusalem Post as he sat on the plane, minutes before it took off for China on Monday night. "My preparation... was affected by the legal wrangle, but I can't think about this now and I must focus and make sure I do my very best at the Games." Bar-Or had initially fallen four hundredths of a second short of the criteria time in the 200 meter freestyle and only a late decision by the Olympic Committee of Israel's High Court kept his Olympic dream alive. "I'm in good form as I continued training despite all the uncertainty. "I want to set new Israeli records in the 100m and 200m freestyle and hopefully come close to making a semifinal. If I improve my personal bests substantially, I can make the semis." The High Court ruled that Bar-Or should be part of the delegation, claiming that the swimmer never had the chance to request to be selected as one of the three youngsters in the delegation because the now suspended Max Jaben had initially qualified for the Games in the 200m free. Bar-Or, who has trained in the US over the last three years, will join the University of Arizona after the Games. But for the time being he's just trying to settle down from the excitement of competing in Beijing. "I'm just starting to grasp the size and importance of this event," he said. "Seeing the Israeli delegation in its official gear gives me butterflies." Despite his high hopes, Bar-Or understands that these Games are just a stepping stone on the way to future glory. "These Olympics are first and foremost about gaining experience ahead of the 2012 Games. I'm also planning to swim in 2016, so Beijing is all about the experience."