The first day of the European Championships in Helsinki was a largely disappointing one for Israeli athletes. The only member of the blue-and-white delegation with anything to smile about was Donald Sanford, who progressed to the next round of the 400-meter run. For high jumpers Dimi Kroyter and Ma'ayan Furman, however, it was a very different story.
Kroyter, a promising 19-year-old, needed to clear 2.28 meters to ensure his place at next month's London Olympics. He managed to clear 2.15 meters in the first attempt and 2.19 meters at the second, but failed to clear his next height, 2.23 meters. The 10 athletes who cleared 2.23 meters progressed to the final, along with two more who cleared 2.19 meters in the first attempt, leaving Kroyter behind.
Earlier in the day Furman, who still had a very slender chance of meeting the Olympic criteria, failed to make the final of the women's high jump. She easily cleared 1.68 meters and 1.73 meters, but the three attempts it took her to get over 1.78 meters and 1.83 meters proved to be her undoing. "I am very disappointed," she told Haaretz after she was eliminated from the competition. "I just wasn't in it. This season has ended too early as far as I am concerned."
The American-born Sanford, meanwhile, finished his heat of the men's 400 meters in second place, but was promoted to first after British runner Luke Lennon-Ford was disqualified. Sanford came home in 45.90 seconds, the fourth-fastest time of all the qualifiers. He will run tonight in the first of three semifinals.
"I started too strongly," Sanford said on Wednesday, "and that left me feeling heavy toward the end of the race. I will talk to my coach about it and we'll learn the lessons for the semifinal."
Sanford needs to shave another 0.6 seconds off his time to meet the Olympic criteria and book his place in London.
In the men's 100 meters, Dima Barski finished fourth in a time of 10.59 seconds and failed to make the next round. Another American-born runner representing Israel, Dustin Emrani, finished the 800 meters in a time of 1:58.69 minutes, far outside his personal best and far too slow to make the next round. In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, meanwhile, Itai Maggidi could only manage a time of 8:47.29 minutes, and also missed out on a place in the next round.
Today sees Israeli record-holder Annastasia Muchkaev compete in the shot put. She needs to reach the final to have any chance of grabbing a last-minute place at London. Jillian Schwartz will compete in the qualifying rounds of the pole vault.
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