Olympic Medal Hope for Israeli Judo Team
While not normally in the news for its sporting achievements, Israel has high hopes for this year’s Olympic Games.
In particular, there are two outstanding athletes on the Israeli Olympic judo team. One, Ariel Ze’evi, is 35 years old, has one Olympic medal and is hoping to win another; the other is Alice Schlesinger, 24, who will be attending her first Olympic Games.
Ze’evi won bronze eight years ago in Athens and is expecting to win a second medal this year after a bad run in Beijing in 2008. Ze’evi won the European Judo Championships in April and says that at the moment he is “very calm” and has “positive thoughts.” He also says that these are his last Olympics and as such must be determined to take home a medal.
It is also hoped that Schlesinger will win a medal in London. She has been training since she was 16 and according to Ze’evi is “one of the best in the world.” The judo coach, Olympic bronze medal winner Oren Smadja, also says that she is “a serious candidate for a medal.” Schlesinger has won three bronze medals, at the 2009 World Championships and the 2009 and 2012 European Championships. She says that while she wants a medal “like everyone else” she also wants to enjoy the Olympics and “go home in peace.”
There are also a couple of team members who have immigrated to Israel from America, Jillian Schwartz and David Sanford. Schwartz, a pole vaulter, is from Chicago; while she was on the US team in 2004 she became an Israeli citizen two years ago. Sanford, a 400m runner, has spent the last four years splitting his time between Israel and Arizona. Both of them say that they are extremely proud to be representing Israel and feel that they have been warmly welcomed by the rest of the Israeli team.