Israel is boasting its largest ever team for the Winter Olympics, which kicked off today in Pyongchang, South Korea.
There are ten Israeli athletes competing at the games in four sports: figure skating, short-track speed skating, alpine skiing and skeleton.
Israel’s delegate is double the size of its previous team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Alexei Bychenko leads the country's bid to earn its first ever Winter Olympics medal. The 29-year-old is part of the country's seven-person figure skating team, having won a silver medal in the 2016 European Figure Skating Championships.
He is also one of three former Ukrainian athletes, including Evgeni Krasnopolsky and Vladislav Bykanov, now to be representing Israel at the games. This is the first time Israel has qualified for the team figure skating competition.
“I’m really excited,” said Bychneko, hoping to improve on his 21st place finish at the 2014 games. “I’m always proud to represent Israel wherever I compete. It is a great responsibility and as always I promise to represent Israel as best as I can.”
Aimee Buchanan, 24, is also part of the figure skating team, having become an Israeli citizen four years ago after growing up in Boston, Massachusetts.
She said: “It’s very special to literally have my country’s name on my back. I think it just shows that it doesn’t really matter where you’re originally from or what your heritage is. You can be who you are and do what you want all over the world.”
Figure skater Paige Conners, 17, is the youngest member of the Israeli team. Still a high school student in New York, Conners missed the try-outs for the United States team due to illness, so her mother suggested she audition for the Israeli national team.
Adam Edelman, 26, represents Israel at skeleton, an event where the competitor rides head-first and prone downhill on a sled, reaching speeds of up to 80 mph. He is self-taught, only taking up the sport four years ago.
He said: “The most important thing to me is that there will be a lasting image of another Israeli walking behind the flag.
“I want to challenge the perception of what Jews and Israelis can do in sports.”
The Pyongchang Winter Olympics will last until February 25.