Olympic roundup / An honorable performance for Team Israel at London 2012
Notwithstanding the failures, Israel can be proud of its showing in London; WATCH: Games close with a bang.
The mountain turned out to be a molehill. I'm not referring to the inflated expectations concerning the Israeli delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but to the reaction of all of us - sports fans, journalists and officials - three-quarters of the way through. We slaughtered the country's leaders, and Sports Minister Limor Livnat hurried to establish a commission of inquiry and halted all funding for Rio 2016. We called on Olympic Committee of Israel president Zvi Varshaviak, Elite Sports Unit head Gili Lustig and OCI Secretary General Efraim Zinger to resign, when if we had waited a few more days London wouldn't have seemed quite so chilly.
Okay, we did have a little problem at the end with the issue of medals. Lee Korzits and Alex Shatilov didn't deliver the goods in money time and both finished sixth. This was disappointing, and the authorities should check with each of them - particularly Korzits - why this happened. Shatilov was never a gold medal candidate anyway; bronze would have sufficed.
Maybe a sports psychologist should be brought in to try to determine just how much the public pressure to win medals was harmful. That could help our athletes prepare for the next Olympiad.
So there was a colossal failure in the sailing: Shahar Zubari plummeted from third to 22nd, and the 470 pair - who were expected at least to reach the medal round - dropped out early in the competition.
Until two weeks ago, Israel Yachting Association chairman Yehuda Maayan was presented as a worthy candidate to succeed Varshaviak, as a former Olympic athlete and successful IYA chairman with many years' experience. Yet what happened in a sporting event where Israel ended up so far from realizing its potential must now be examined.
And, yes, the country's leading sporting branch, judo, also flopped: three wins in nine bouts, the worst performance since 1992. But this was hardly surprising following the internal political ruptures the sport has gone through in recent years. So Alice Schlesinger disappointed - but she lost to the eventual gold and bronze medalists. And Arik Zeevi made the headlines more because of his reputation than his real potential. The successful judokas from the past, Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponti and head coach Oren Smadja, should be given time to prepare for Rio.
In the most important Olympic sport of all, track and field, we don't exist - but we knew that before the Games began.
Despite all the above, was the London Olympiad really such a failure? What about the swimming? The second appearance in a final for one swimmer, another placing 10th twice, the first appearance of a female swimmer in a semifinal. That's not much compared with other countries, but for a little country that doesn't invest too much in sport it's perfectly okay. And we had four finalists in the gymnastics. Moreover, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich reached the tennis quarterfinals, as they did in Athens.
In shooting, we missed. As usual - nothing to get excited about. It's a shame that Guy Starik, with his experience of four Olympics, could not placate his apprentice, Sergy Richter, before the competition. With a bit more patience he could have reached the final.
Before we all remonstrate with ourselves over the failure: We reached eight finals in London, only one less than the record number in Sydney. So Israel's representative on the International Olympic Committee Alex Giladi didn't get the chance to be proud, Limor Livnat didn't dance on the podium and Bibi Netanyahu had to console rather than congratulate. May those be our biggest problems. We were there and competed honorably.