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Zinger reveals 2012 medal hopes

    High hopes: Efraim Zinger predicts big things from Israel’s leading ladies and Andy Ram at the 2012 Olympics
    High hopes: Efraim Zinger predicts big things from Israel’s leading ladies and Andy Ram at the 2012 Olympics

    The head of Israel's National Olympic Committee is hoping his squad for London 2012 will produce the first female medallist for 20 years.

    Efraim Zinger is also targeting a medal in a sport other than windsurfing or judo for the first time.

    Zinger, a former Jewish Agency emissary to Boston, has headed the committee since 1995.

    He believes that "around 40 athletes" will board the plane to London next summer, around a third of whom will have "realistic medal hopes".

    Although the final squad will not be named until July next year – about 30 days before the Games begin – to allow for track and field athletes to reach international A-standard marks, most of the squad will be known by the spring.

    Efraim Zinger
    Efraim Zinger

    "We have three goals," said Zinger. "The first is the most important one; to win at least one medal. Since our first medal at Barcelona in 1992, we have always won a medal in every Games, so we would like to achieve this for the sixth time in a row. We also have yet to win our first Olympic gold.

    "Second, we hope that in London an Israeli female athlete will be able to win a medal for the second time.

    "We only have one so far, in judo in 1992, although since then women have made huge progress; in Athens and Beijing 50 per cent of our delegations were female."

    "Finally, I also think that the squad can produce a medal-winner from outside the traditional strongholds of windsurfing and judo."

    Zinger has drawn up a list of 60 athletes who are in contention of qualifying for their events next summer, some of whom compete in the same categories. This means that, under their sports' own international governance, they are competing for one place.

    "In windsurfing and judo we have two very good athletes in the same category," said Zinger. "Only one will go."

    He describes tennis players Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich as "genuine medal prospects" while Rhythmic gymnast Neta Rifkin, who recently took bronze at the European Championships, is another big hope in an event that will be held at Wembley Arena.

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