Sinai Says: A little squabble that’s gone off the deep end

There seems to be no resolution to the dispute between Bar-Or and the ISA.

No one doubts Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or’s talent.
So why isn’t the 21-year-old swimmer competing at the ongoing European Championships in Budapest? Well, that would depend on who you ask.
Bar-Or believes the Israel Swimming Association has a vendetta against him. He is certain the ISA has never forgiven him for his decision to learn his trade in the US, rather than at the Wingate Institute, and compete in local competitions for the Jerusalem Metropolitan team rather than the all-conquering Hapoel Jerusalem, from which current ISA chairman Noam Zvi arose.
The ISA, on the other hand, claims the swimmer has behaved inappropriately, and despite all its efforts, he refuses to meet the basic requirements demanded from national team members and is attacking the association despite never really intending on representing Israel at the Europeans.
All of this makes for a very messy and embarrassing exchange of insults, which shows no signs of slowing down and from which everyone loses.
It should have been so different.
The freestyle specialist burst onto the scene three years ago when he claimed silver and bronze medals at the European Youth Swimming Championships in Antwerp.
He soon broke the Israeli records in the 50-meter, 100m and 200m free and was a last minute addition to Israel’s delegation to the Beijing Olympics.
Bar-Or, who currently trains at the University of Arizona, finished in an impressive 15th place in the 200m in China, but while everything was going according to plan in the pool, outside of the water matters continued to deteriorate.
The volatile relationship between Bar-Or and the ISA hit boiling point at last summer’s World Championships. Bar-Or claimed that he suffered minor facial injuries after the national team’s assistant coach Dima Ravinski struck him with a towel, allegations that were denied by the ISA.
Both the swimmer and the coach eventually faced disciplinary action, but while Ravinski was acquitted, Bar-Or was suspended for three months for his part in the fracas.
“We found ourselves in an impossible situation,” Nimrod’s father Michael told me on Monday.
“Nimrod is paying the price for doing things the unorthodox way. He wouldn’t make concessions others would. He wouldn’t join Hapoel Jerusalem and he wouldn’t accept national coach Leonid Kaufman as his coach.”
The ISA, for its part, says Bar- Or rebuffed all of its approaches in recent months, turning down all its peace offerings.
There seems to be no resolution to the dispute between Bar-Or and the ISA. Both sides claim the other is lying and the fact that the two communicate via lawyers these days pretty much says it all.
Both parties can argue as much as they want regarding the blame for the current sad situation.
However, if Bar-Or never represents his country again, neither will be able to hide from their responsibility in the wasting of a talent the likes of which Israeli sports is rarely bestowed.