Kopelev claims historic gold for Israel at Euros

By Danny Caro, May 25, 2012

Jonatan Kopelev became the first Israeli European swimming champion ever when he won the 50-meter backstroke by blowing away the field with a time of 24.73 seconds.

Compatriot Guy Barnea came home in third in 25.14 seconds to ensure that two Israelis made the podium in the same European Championships for the first time.

"I'm speechless. The feeling is immense," said Kopelev, 20, on Thursday. "I didn't believe I'd hear 'Hatikva,' It's amazing. I've got shivers all over my body."

There was also success for Israel in the women's competition as Amit Ivri secured an Olympics spot earlier with a time of 58.63 secs in her heat in the 100-metres butterfly.

Ivri commented: "I'm thrilled. My dream has been fulfilled and now I can prepare for the real mission - representing Israel with honor at the Olympics."

Last updated: 1:32pm, May 25 2012