Israel's Olympic history

By Simon Griver, July 19, 2012
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Israel’s first involvement at the summer Olympics came in 1952 in Helsinki when they sent a squad of 26 athletes. Yoav Raanan achieved the best result by finishing ninth in the diving competition.

Only three athletes represented Israel in Melbourne in 1956 because the Games were held several weeks after the outbreak of the Sinai War.

The Jewish State's presence in Finland and Australia and the games that followed in Rome, Tokyo and Mexico City were notable in establishing that the country was on the map rather than any outstanding sporting performances.

The first time Israel captured Olympic headlines was tragically in Munich in 1972 when Black September terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.

Gradually sporting performances began to improve and in Montreal in 1976, Edouard Weitz took fifth place in his weightlifting category, while Esther Roth finished sixth in the 110m hurdles.

In 1980, Israel followed America’s lead in boycotting the Moscow Olympics and again drew a blank in Los Angeles in 1984. In Seoul in 1988 a medal was tantalisingly close when Yoel Sela and Eldad Amir finished fourth in the 470 dinghy sailing event and would have been among the leading contenders for a medal had they not forfeited one race that fell on Yom Kippur.

Israel eventually won its first medals in Barcelona in 1992. Yael Arad led the way when she took silver in the judo under-61kg competition. She remains the only Israeli woman to win a medal. The next day Oren Smadja won bronze in the men’s under-78kg judo event. In track and field Danny Krasnov finished eighth in the men's pole vault.

Israel has gone on to win a medal at every Games since. Windsurfer Gal Fridman took bronze in Atlanta in 1996 while Michael Kolganov took home the bronze in the men’s 1,500m kayaking in Sydney in 2000. European pole vault champion Alex Averbuch finished a disappointing 10th in the pole vault in Sydney and could only manage eighth four years later.

The country's best performance came in Athens in 2004 with Fridman becoming the nation’s first-ever gold medalist in the windsurfing. This was followed by Arik Zeevi claiming bronze in the men’s under-100kg judo competition.

Beijing four years ago was something of a disappointment with Shahar Zuberi bringing home Israel's only medal – a bronze in the men's windsurfing. Vered Busquila and Nika Kornitzky came very close to winning a medal finishing fourth in the women's 470 dinghy sailing.

Last updated: 5:02pm, July 26 2012