Meet your Jewish and Israeli Olympic Athletes: Part 1
Shalom Life previews the Jewish and Israeli representation at the upcoming London games
In just two days, the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games will take place in London, England, marking the start of the 30th summer Olympiad.
Jews from around the world, including New Zealand, the U.S., Australia, Canada, and of course Israel will take be taking part as they each compete on behalf of their respective countries.
To preview the Jewish representation at London 2012, Shalom Life proudly presents the first part of a three-day series, featuring all Jewish and Israeli athletes competing at the games (click here for part 2 and here for part 3). Today, we look at the first half of Israel’s 2012 delegation.
Zohar Zemiro (men’s marathon)
Born in Ethiopia, the 35-year-old Zimro will compete for Israel in marathon running. London 2012 will mark the first Olympics for Zimro, who was the first Israeli athlete to book his ticket to the games. He qualified after running the Amsterdam Marathon in 2:14.28 hours in April 2011, but found his Olympic hopes in jeopardy when tested positive for Terbutaline, an illegal substance commonly found in asthma inhalers. Due to his condition, a court ruled that Zemiro would be allowed to compete in London after serving a one month suspension. He was national champion in marathon running in 2010 and 2012, national champion in hill running in 2008, and a three-time running champion at the Maccabiah Games. He was named Athlete of the Year in 2011 by the Israel Athletics Association.
The men’s marathon competition will take place August 12 at 11 a.m.
Jillian Schwartz (women’s pole vault)
Illinois native Jillian Schwartz previously competed for the U.S. at the 2004 Athens Games. But the 32-year-old will represent Israel after moving there and gaining Israeli citizenship in 2010. Schwartz has competed at four World Championships in Athletics and her best placing to date remains fourth place at the 2004 International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Indoor Championships. She has set Israeli records for both indoor and outdoor pole vaults, but her best score was 4.72 metres, set in Jonesboro, Arkansas in 2008.
The women’s pole vault qualification will take place August 4 at 10:20 a.m. The final competition is scheduled for August 6 at 7 p.m.
Donald Sanford (track – men’s 400 m)
Although not Jewish, 25-year-old Donald Sanford will compete for Israel in London. The final entry on Israel’s 2012 Olympic delegation, Sanford was only given the IAAF’s approval to represent Israel this past March and will run in the 400-metre competition. He obtained Israeli citizenship just recently after marrying Israeli basketball player Danielle Dekel in 2008. Sanford placed fourth in the 400-metre run at the 2012 European Championships in Helsinki, Finland, becoming the first Israeli finalist in a major international track and field competition since 1974. He came a mere nine hundredths of a second away from medaling. Sanford previously competed for Arizona State University.
The opening round of the men’s 400 m run will take place August 4 at 10:35 a.m. The semifinals are scheduled the following day at 8:40 p.m. and the final round will take place August 6 at 9:30 p.m.