Swimmer Mandel returns home with two new Israeli records

Clocks 52.99 seconds in 100 meters butterfly heats; Gal Nevo finishes 13th overall in 200m individual medley semifinals.

olympic promo 224 (photo credit: )
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Alon Mandel flew to Israel to join his grieving family on Thursday night after completing his Olympic program in Beijing and swimming the 100 meters butterfly heats. Mandel, who clocked a new Israeli record time of 52.99 seconds on Thursday, finishing in 36th position, decided to remain and compete at the Olympics last Thursday after learning of the death of his father. Kostya Mandel, 51, passed away last week after falling off a ladder at the garden of his home in Netanya. "I'm very pleased with the result. I'm getting closer to the world's best," said the 20-year-old, who also set an Israeli record in the 200m fly on Monday. Mandel's sister, Maya, came to be with her brother in Beijing after the death of their father and Alon credited her with his remarkable success at the Games. "Maya's presence helped me a lot," he said. "My Israeli colleagues also helped with what they could," added Mandel, who had to undergo a drug test before he could leave the Olympic pool for the airport. Earlier in the day, Gal Nevo finished in 13th overall in the 200m Individual Medley, clocking a time of 2:00.43 minutes in the semifinals. Nevo, who swam alongside Michael Phelps, failed to match his Israeli record time of 1:59.66m from the heats the previous day. "My first goal was to reach the semis, but getting here opened my appetite," said Nevo, who had an excellent Olympics, also finishing in 11th position in the 400m I.M. "I was slightly surprised by my success in the 400m I.M, but I expected to reach the last 16 in the 200m race. The Olympics have given me a big boost and I'm nearly in the top-10 in the world in both my events." Despite his superb week in Beijing, Nevo claimed that the star of the Israeli team was Mandel. "The hero of the competition is Mandel. The way he conducted himself and handled the situation was amazing."