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Bykanov looking to impress for Israel at Winter Olympics

Vladislav Bykanov is confident he can make history and secure Israel’s first-ever medal at the Winter Olympics.

    The Ukrainian-born figure skater goes into the event in top form after winning gold in the 3,000m and bronze in the 1,500m at the European Championships last month.

    Although the longer distance is not an Olympic event, Bykanov insists “a medal is a realistic possibility” when the competition gets under way in Pyeongchang.

    Bykanov said: “I’ve gained a lot of experience at the highest level and I feel ready to go up against the best in the world.”

    ROSEN READY FOR TEAM GB

    Israel has sent a record squad of ten athletes to South Korea, double the representation that competed in Sochi four years ago.

    Figure-skater Alexei Bychenko will be Israel’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. “This is an incredible responsibility and honour,” he said. “I will be the best possible ambassador for Israel, both at the opening ceremony and during competition.”

    Bychenko’s best displays have seen him finish 21st in Sochi and win silver at the 2016 European Championships.

    Israel’s squad features only two home-grown athletes — figure-skater Daniel Samohin and Ronald Zilberberg, who will compete in the ice dancing with Ukrainian-born Adel Tankova.

    London-born Itamar Biran, 19, will participate in the slalom and giant slalom. His target is to “finish in the top 30 and continue to compete in the event until he wins a medal”.

    Adam Edelman, 26, will become the delegation’s first participant in skeleton skating. Since making aliyah two years ago, Edelman, who was born in Massachusetts, admits he has “thought of little else than competing in Pyeongchang”.

    Nicknamed the “Hebrew Hammer”, he often reaches speeds of around 130kph, lying face-first on a small sled and sliding down a frozen track. He is determined to improve on a ranking of 61 in the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation standings. Adelman believes his “fearless approach on the ice” is what helps him stand out from the rest”.

    Asked what motivates him, he responded: “I wanted to do something with meaning and impact that would better my community and encourage more Jewish and Israeli participation in sport. I want to start a foundation to get more funding for youth athletes and thought the best platform to accomplish this is on an elite stage, proudly and with distinction.”

    Aimee Buchanan, who is 23 and also from Massachusetts, admits she will need to overcome her nerves to perform to her best. “I just want to go out and skate like I do in training,” she said. “I want to have fun and be in the moment enough to enjoy it and not be so stressed.” Buchanan won the national singles skating title two years ago and has represented Israel at the European Championships three times.

    ISRAEL SQUAD:

    Figure skaters: Alexei Bychenko, Daniel Samohin, Evgeni Krasnopolsky, Paige Conners, Adel Tankova, Ronald Zilberberg, Aimee Buchanan

    Short-track speed skater: Vladislav Bykanov

    Alpine skier: Itamar Biran

    Skeleton racer: Adam “AJ” Edelman

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