Despite finishing in last place, the painful fall on the mat, and an automatic point deduction for stepping out of the squared-off area, Alexandr Shatilov made it. Even finishing eighth in the final is still an accomplishment for an Israeli gymnast, especially in a sport that is third only to athletics and swimming at the Olympics.
Shatilov opened well, and some Israelis may have fantasized about a medallion after the collapse of Brazilian Diego Hypolito, the favorite, and the errors by Romanian Marian Dragulescu.
However, Shatilov also made mistakes, and as he lost his self-confidence, his routine swiftly declined.
Shatilov admitted afterward that he was excited to be at his first Olympics.
"It could be I lost my concentration, it could be I was too excited," he said. "It's never happened to me before that I stepped out of the permitted area twice in one exercise."
He added that he had expected to reach the final, "and I did that, but I could have done better."
He concluded that if it weren't for his faults, he might have been in range of a medal. At age 21, he's allowed to be a bit disappointed, but we definitely can also allow ourselves to hope that Shatilov will be an impressive gymnast who will go far.
On the more disappointing side of Israel's young athletes, high jumper Niki Palli was unable to clear the 2.25-meter mark. After the competition, he said an old injury was bothering him.
"My leg hurt," he said. "I'm disappointed because it's a height I can reach."
Israel's marksmen also had an off-day in the 3 positions preliminary. Doron Egozi got off to a good start, but went downhill thereafter. He finished with 1,155 points to finish 36th place in the preliminary round. Gil Simkovitch never went anywhere. He finished two points behind Egozi with 1,153, which landed him in 38th place.
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