Israel names 2012 Olympic Delegation
36 athletes will represent the Holy Land in the London Summer Games
With just one month to go until the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the Olympic Committee of Israel (OCI) announced its official delegation of 36 athletes who will represent the country earlier this week, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The delegation is comprised of 18 male and 18 female athletes, who will compete in a combined 10 different sports, including tennis, swimming, synchronized swimming, judo, sailing, badminton, athletics, shooting, and rhythmic and artistic gymnastics. Over half of the athletes will be competing in their first Olympic competitions.
One more spot remains open on the delegation as Israel awaits the results of European Athletics Championships which begin today in Helsinki, Finland. The Israeli team also includes the tennis duo of Yoni Erlich and Andy Ram, however they have not been guaranteed spots at the Games by the International Tennis Federation.
Although smaller than Israel’s 43-athlete delegation in Beijing four years ago, OCI president Zvi Varshaviak called it “the best quality squad we have ever had.”
Tennis star Shahar Pe’er headlines the list of athletes Israel will send to London. The 25-year-old is currently ranked 49th in the world, a fall from her career-best ranking at no. 11, which she reached in January 2011.
Shahar Pe'er (Photo: Wikipedia)
Shahar Zubari, a windsurfer who captured a bronze medal in 2008 in Beijing, was announced as Israel’s official flag bearer for the opening ceremony. Zubari is the only returning Israeli athlete who won an Olympic medal four years ago and will carry on a tradition from previous Olympics in which a former medalist leads the Israeli delegation at the ceremony.
Shahar Zubari with his 2008 Olympic bronze medal in Beijing (Photo: Wikipedia)
World Champion windsurfer Lee Korzits, who was previously rumoured to carry the Israeli flag, was also a notable name on the list. In 2003, Korzits made history at the age of 19 when she became the first female Israeli world champion at any sport and the youngest surfer to ever win the world title. She captured first place at the World Championships again in 2011 and 2012.
Lee Korzits competes at the 2011 World Championships in Perth, where she captured a gold medal (Photo: Perth 2011)
Renowned judoka Ariel “Arik” Ze’evi will attempt to capture his first Olympic gold medal, despite having finished in first place in seven judo tournaments since 1999, over which time he also finished second place three times and placed third in six events. The 35-year-old won an Olympic bronze in 2004 in Athens, Greece.
That same year, Israel won its only Olympic gold medal to date when windsurfer Gal Fridman won in the category of sailing. With two medals in 2004, Israel tied its record of winning two medals, which it had done previously in Barcelona in 1992 and has won at least one medal in every summer Olympics since then.
The OCI estimates at least six of Israel’s representatives have a good chance of winning a medal in London, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“This time we are hoping for more than two medals,” said Varshaviak. “In previous Olympics we hoped for two and usually won one, but this time I believe that we can return with three.”
For a complete list of the 2012 Israeli Olympic Delegation, please see the following page.