Israel won’t get stage fright at Olympics, says Lustig


Gili Lustig is determined to see Israel create a new generation of heroes as they aim to make history at the Rio Olympics.

Forty-seven athletes will represent Israel across 16 sports. But although the size of the squad and the number of disciplines are both records, despite rigorous qualification criteria, Lustig conceded that there will be no excuses if the delegation returns home empty-handed, as they did at London 2012.

Nobody feels this pressure more keenly than Lustig, secretary-general of the Olympic Committee of Israel. “Of course there is much more to the Olympics than winning medals,” he said.

“People forget that in London we reached eight finals, but at the end of the day winning a medal is a must.”

Asked how success would be calculated, Lustig said: “Ten finals and at least one medal. To win a medal you need at least five or six candidates and Israel has no shortage of potential medal winners in Brazil.”

He identified triple jumper Hanna Knazyeva-Minenko as a “strong candidate” for Israel’s first-ever track and field medal. She finished fourth in London when representing Ukraine and has won medals in the 2015 World Championships and 2016 European Championships since emigrating to Israel in 2013.

“We are always strong in judo and former world champion Yarden Gerbi and European Games gold medallist Sagi Muki are candidates to be on the podium,” said Lustig.

"Also look out for our women’s rhythmic gymnastics team recently who took double gold in the European Championships. But it might be more difficult in Rio where there is only the all-round event.”

Ron Atias will be looking to build on his silver medal at the European Taekwondo Championships in May while Lustig also predicts great things from Beijing bronze medallist Shahar Zubari in the windsurfing.

Lustig also believes with many of the top professional players staying away tennis player Dudi Sela and golfer Laetititia Beck “could be in the frame”.

Another medal prospect is gymnast Neta Rivkin, 25, whose potential performance has been boosted by the honour of being Israel’s flag-bearer in Rio.

She finished 14th in Beijing and seventh in London and is currently ranked sixth in the world. “I can’t tell you how excited I am about being chosen to carry the flag,” she said.

“It’s something I dreamt about as a little girl. As for a medal, this will be my last Olympics and I’ll give it my best shot.”


Hanna Knyazevya-Minenko
Donald Sanford
Dimitri Kroitor
Tesama Moogas
Ageze Guadie
Marhu Teferi
Maor Tyouri
Korlina Chemtai

Misha Zilberman

Shlomi Haimy, Shani Bloch

Laetitia Beck

Gymnastics Artistic:
Alexander Shatilov
Neta Rivkin
Team: Alona Koshevatskiy, Ekaterina Levina, Karina LykhvarIda, Ida Mayrin, Yuval Filo

Golan Pollack
Sagi Muki
Or Sasson
Shira Rishony
Gili Cohen
Yarden Gerbi
Linda Bolder

Shahar Zubari
Maayan Davidovich
Dan Froyliche
Eyal Levin
Nina Amir
Gil Cohen

Sergey Richter

Ziv Kalontorov
Gal Nevo
Yakov Toumarkin
Amit Ivry
Andrea Murez
Zohar Shikler
Keren Siebner

Synchronized Swimming
Anastasia Gloushkov
Yevgeniya Tetelbaum

Ron Atias

Dudi Sela

Ron Darmon

Igor Olshanetskyi

Ilana Kratysh

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