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BEIJING - Alex Averbukh, the senior athlete in Israel's delegation and the only hope for making a final in the Bird's Nest, will join the competition Wednesday in the pole vault. Averbukh's advantage is his experience. Beijing is his third Olympiad - he finished in eighth place in Athens. He also holds a silver and a bronze from previous world championships as well as a European gold. However, he was sidelined by injury for quite a while and has not been impressive this year.

Only six of the other 40 competitors participating Wednesday have topped his personal best of 5.93 meters, an Israeli national record. But, if one looks at this year, when Averbukh barely competed, no fewer than 32 athletes have vaulted higher than the 5.55 meters he accomplished two months ago.

"I believe I can make the final, but anything is possible on the day of competition," said Averbukh this week. He will join the group in the second preliminary, starting at 3:40 P.M. Israel time. Topping 5.75 meters guarantees a spot in the final. If fewer than 12 athletes reach this height, a lower level could be enough.

Getterer enters taekwando fight

Thursday morning, at 5:30 Israel time, Bat-El Getterer will begin her Olympic bid in the women's 57kg taekwando competition. She will take on Croatian Martina Zubcic, a former European champion, in the round of 16. "Anything is possible," says her coach and former taekwando athlete Noa Shmida.