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Arik Ze'evi yesterday tried to sound upbeat as he began rehabilitating a torn elbow ligament that has dashed his hopes of competing at the upcoming World Judo Championships in Rio de Janeiro. "They told me that maybe I'll be able to return to activity by October," he announced. "In the meantime, I've started preparing a training program including a lot of rhythmics, as I did for my previous injury two years ago."

The Olympic hopeful underwent an innovative procedure at Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava, in which the surgeons transplanted a portion of a ligament from his healthy elbow to the injured one in the hope of speeding up the healing process.

These past two injuries have been the toughest of his career, according to Ze'evi. The former one kept him out of the previous World Championships, which were held in Cairo. "I easily could've taken a medal in Cairo, and this time in Rio I had already planned my vacation afterward."

Ze'evi needs to win two medals in four tournaments in 2008 to qualify for next year's Olympic Games in Beijing, but that criterion doesn't concern him. "If I don't do it, then I truly won't have anything to do in Beijing, but it pains me that every time something happens to me ahead of the World Championships."

The owner of six European Championship medals, he expressed his desire to win a medal in his weight category at the world level. "Perhaps it'll happen in two years," he pondered.