Young Personality of the Year: Guy Barnea

Israeli swimming's biggest talent may have never taken up the sport had it not been for his slight asthma. Guy Barnea's parents only sent him to swimming lessons for medical reasons, but the 20-year-old has since rewritten the record books and was the first Israeli swimmer to guarantee his place at the Beijing Olympic Games this year. Barnea erased the name of Eitan Orbach, one of Israel's greatest-ever athletes, from the record books in 2007 and clinched his place in China after clocking a time of 55.50 seconds in the 100 meter backstroke in August. Barnea, who finished the 100m backstroke final at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in sixth position earlier this month, has since lowered the record to 55.11s, but is already setting his sights on a further improvement at the Olympics. "My current best is not good enough to reach the semifinals in Beijing," Barnea, who trains at the University of California at Berkley, said in a recent interview. "My goal is to finish the 100m in 54.50s, which should be good enough for a semifinal berth and perhaps even a place in the Olympic final."