Israeli ice skater's misery at Olympic deselection

By Jessica Elgot, February 10, 2010
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Roman and Alexandra Zaretsky, from Metulla, have qualified to compete in the ice dancing at the 2010 Games.

Roman and Alexandra Zaretsky, from Metulla, have qualified to compete in the ice dancing at the 2010 Games.

Three Israeli athletes are gearing up for the start of the Winter Olympics on Friday, hoping this will be the year the country finally wins a medal.

But Tamar Katz, a 22-year-old figure skater and three-time Israeli champion, has not qualified, despite meeting the standards set by the Winter Olympics committee.

Controversially, the Israeli Olympic Committee decided not to send her because she did not finish in the top 14 at the World Championships held in Spokane, Washington.

An outraged Ms Katz has since set up a Facebook group “Tamar Katz should be allowed to compete at the 2010 Olympics” to protest against the committee’s decision. The group has more than 1,800 members.

Israel has since ceded the spot gained by Ms Katz to Australia.

Ms Katz commented: “Israel has said several times that it does not want to send ‘tourists’ to the Olympic Games. It wants to send people who will bring back medals.

“Well, I was not intending to go as a tourist and while I might not have won a medal, I think it is important for the world to see Israel compete. That is how a sport grows, through exposure.”

Meanwhile brother and sister Roman and Alexandra Zaretsky, from Metulla, have qualified to compete in the ice dancing at the 2010 Games.

They also competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics, just after Roman finished his IDF service, when they finished in 22nd place.

They are due to skate to Hava Nagila and the music from the film, Schindler’s List.

Mikail Renzhin is the only Israeli ski competitor. He will compete in the men’s giant slalom and the men’s slalom. The 2010 Games is also his second Olympics. In 2006 he was placed 32nd and 37th in the giant slalom and the slalom.

Israelis have also featured in the more artistic side to the Games. Chasidic reggae rapper Matisyahu has had his song “One Day” featured on the NBC advert for the Winter Olympics.

    Last updated: 4:18pm, February 10 2010