Guy Starik yesterday became the 38th athlete who - assuming that nothing untoward happens between now and August 8 - will represent Israel at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The veteran marksman was awarded an honorary place at the Games by the International Practical Shooting Confederation, thanks to his remarkable achievement at the Grand Prix event in Munich last month - where he scored a world-record 600 points. As a result, Starik was given a ticket to the 2008 Games - which will be his fourth in total.
The total number of Israelis participating in the Beijing Games could drop to 37, however, if long jumper Niki Palli fails to meet the 2.27 meter criteria by the end of the Israeli Championships, which will be held in Hadar Yosef next month. Palli was given a place in the Israeli Olympic roster thanks to his achievements in the youth category, but last weekend only managed to record a score of 2.10 meters. According to the chairman of the Israeli Olympic Committee, Zvi Varshaviak, and the head of the government's Competitive Sport Unit, Gili Lustig, Palli's recent poor form "has got us rather worried."
That said, the roster could yet grow. Vika Portonov, who is a substitute in the rhythmic gymnastics team, could yet earn a berth on her own right. In the kayaking event, Roey Yalin and Michael Kalganov are waiting on a decision by the International Sailing Association, although their chances of participating at Beijing are slim. Athletes Itay Magidi (3,000 meters hurdles), Irna Lansky (10 meters hurdles) and Sivan Jan can all meet the Olympic minimum at the upcoming Israeli Championships, although recent form also suggests that their chances are far from good.
The IOC also announced Monday the bonuses athletes can earn at the Games: for a personal best, athletes will be awarded NIS 10,000; for bout-based events (judo, taekwondo and fencing), athletes will be awarded NIS 3,000 for each stage they progress; and for those athletes who make it all the way to the final of their respective events, there are also handsome bonuses - including an NIS 240,000 handout to any athlete coming home with a gold medal.
Israel's Olympic rosterTrack and FieldAlex Averbukh (pole vault)Niki Palli (long jump, still needs to meet 2.27 meter criteria)
JudoArik Ze'evi (100 kg)Gal Yekutiel(60 kg)Alice Schlezinger (63 kg)
Individual rhythmic gymnasticsIra RisenzonNeta Rivkin
Team rhythmic gymnasticsKayta Pizatzki, Racheli Vidgorcheck, Maria Savnakov, Alona Dvorinchenko and Veronica Witberg
Artistic gymnasticsAlex Shtilov
TaekwondoBat-El Getterer (57 kg)
TennisShahar PeerAndy Rami and Yoni Erlich
FencingTomer Or (men's foil)Dalilah Hatuel (women's foil?)Noam Mills (women's epee?)
ShootingDoron Egozi, Gil Simokvic and Guy Starik
SwimmingItay Chama, Gal Nevo, Guy Barnea, Tom Be'eri, Max Jaben, Anja Gostamelsky
Synchronized swimmingAnastasia Gloushkov and Ina Yoffe
SailingGidi Klinger and Udi Gal (470 men)Vered Buskila and Nika Kornitzky (470 women)
Shahar Tzuberi (men's windsurfing)Ma'ayan Davidovich (women's windsurfing)Nofar Eledman (laser radial)
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