Israeli Olympics committee perfectly formed

Israel's new generation can raise the bar in 2010 says Olympic chief Zinger


By Simon Griver, December 16, 2010
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The Olympic Committee of Israel (OCI) has published tough qualification criteria for the 2012 Olympics and is confident of bringing home several medals from London.

OCI Secretary General Efraim Zinger said: "We are going to England to win medals and, in order to win, you need tough criteria so you can concentrate limited resources on the more promising medal prospects. The criteria are the same as for Beijing and we expect about 40 Israel sportswomen and men to travel to London."

Zinger has set three targets for London - to continue the Israeli tradition of winning a medal at every Olympics since Barcelona in 1992, to see a woman emulate judoka Yael Arad's achievement of becoming the first Israeli to win a medal in 1992, and to win a medal in a new discipline.

He said: "We have some women who are well placed to take medals. Bat-El Gatterer recently won the gold medal in the featherweight division of the European Taekwondo Championships. If Gatterer wins a medal, we would have achieved all three targets in one swoop but we hope to win more than one medal in London so that is a fourth target."

Other female candidates that Zinger tips for the medal podium are Alice Shlesinger, who won a bronze medal in the European Judo Championships, and Shahar Peer in both the tennis singles competition and the newly introduced mixed doubles with Andy Ram.

The pick of the male medal prospects for Zinger are Uzbekistan born artistic gymnast Alex Shatilov, the 470 doubles sailing team of Eran Sela and Gidi Klinger, and Beijing windsurfing bronze medallist Shahar Zubari challenged by twice world champion Nimrod Meshiah, who was named OCI sportsman of 2010, for the one slot available to represent Israel.

"We think it is worth at least one medal for Israel that the games are in England," said Zinger. "Our competitors are familiar with the country and we expect large numbers of Israelis to be there as well as the local Jewish community to cheer us on."

In most sports, Israelis will need to be in the top 20 to qualify for London. The OCI has not relaxed its insistence on a top 50 ranking for tennis players, which controversially left Dudi Sela out of Beijing because he was only ranked 71. The decision was undermined by Sela reaching the Beijing Open final two months after the Olympics.

Zinger said: "Anticipating sporting performance is not a science. You can never be sure who is going to do well on a particular day. But our policy is to set high standards and we are sticking with it."

    Last updated: 3:33pm, December 16 2010