The list of achievements this past long weekend by Israeli athletes is impressive. The number of medals at the European Swimming Championships rose to five; gymnast Alex Shatilov won another medal in the floor exercise, this time in the European Championships; judoka Alice Schlesinger claimed gold on her 24th birthday at the Grand Slam in Moscow; and even archer Guy Matzkin won a pre-Olympic trial to qualify for the London Games.
It's thrilling, especially since the Olympics are on our doorstep. It's refreshing, particularly on the heels of a just-ended controversial season of Israeli soccer. It's very encouraging, because some of these competitions were the last chances for meeting the Olympic standards. It was crunch time, and it turns out that no few Israeli athletes know how to raise their game and deliver.
At the same time, it would be premature to wrap ourselves in Israeli flags, hum the national anthem and arrange security for Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat at the medals podium. As impressive as the European medal haul is, most of the athletes who win medals in swimming, gymnastics and judo come from other continents, not Europe. In two months, when the Americans, Australians, Japanese, Chinese, Brazilians and Koreans show up, the mission will become much harder.
That's not to say we shouldn't relish these achievements. They definitely show that Israelis are capable of winning to the degree that they apply themselves and demonstrate professionalism in any field. Shatilov is a world-class athlete. Swimmer Gal Nevo is an enormous talent. Schlesinger has proved herself. But given the manic-depressive state that we are accustomed to, we should take these medals in proportion.
The real test commences in 60 days. Meanwhile, we can certainly allow ourselves to be filled with hope and optimism that the Israeli delegation will have a successful Olympic outing.
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