Jump start for teen’s Olympic ambitions

By Simon Griver, July 16, 2009
Follow The JC on Twitter

Dima Kroyter enhanced his credentials as a future Olympic medallist by leaping to gold in the high jump for Israel in the World Under-17 Athletics Championships in Italy.

The 16-year-old prodigy jumped 2.20 metres, one centimetre short of his personal best. “It was such a thrill to stand on the podium and hear the Hatikvah,” he said.

Kroyter has had to surmount bureaucratic difficulties more daunting than the high jump bar to progress his career. His mother Tatiana came to Israel from Russia in 1999, but did not take Israeli citizenship. This meant the Ministry of Interior had to fast-track the athlete’s citizenship application earlier this year.

Then shortly before he was due to fly to Italy, the International Association of Athletics Federations informed Kroyter that as a minor, he was ineligible to compete because his divorced parents had not legally formalised custody arrangements. A legal team in Tel Aviv worked around the clock to locate Kroyter’s father Piotr in Siberia and have him sign the relevant documents. The jumper finally flew to Italy several days after the main Israeli delegation.

Kroyter won the senior Israeli championship last month with a leap of 2.19 metres in the absence through injury of Nikki Palli, who has a personal best of 2.27 metres.

Meanwhile, veteran pole vaulter Alex Averbukh has announced his retirement. The Russian immigrant twice took gold at the European Championships and won gold and silver in World Championships. But an Olympic medal always eluded him.

    Last updated: 11:54am, July 16 2009