The opening day of the 75th national athletics championship at the Hadar Yosef stadium in Tel Aviv ended in disappointment, as triple jumper Yochai Halevi, the 2010 Israeli male athlete of the year, failed to achieve the minimum distance needed to qualify for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, which begins on August 27.
On the second attempt Halevi improved his personal best by 1 centimeter, to 16.77 meters - still short of the 16.85 meters needed to reach South Korea. Despite being urged on by a vociferous, if sparse, audience as the humid evening wore on, Halevi was red-flagged on his third and final attempt.
"I felt good," he said later. "I didn't think I should have been disqualified on the last jump - I had the record in my sights. I very much wanted to reach the criterion at this competition. I just hope I will make it in my upcoming events [overseas]."
It was also a disappointing evening for pole-vaulter Jillian Schwartz, who immigrated from the United States in 2009. Schwartz has already booked her ticket to South Korea. She hoped to better 4.50 meters (the Olympic criterion ), but had to make do with 4.24 meters after failing three times with the bar set at 4.34 meters, leaving Anastasiya Shvedova of Belarus to win with 4.45m.
"It was just a bad day for me," Schwartz said after dropping out of the competition. "I think I need some more training. This is a new run for me with a longer approach. With a long run I'll jump higher. Since I've done it already from a shorter approach I can definitely do it with a longer approach. I'll have to work on it with Alex [Averbuch]."
The 31-year-old Schwartz previously represented the United States in the 2004 Athens Olympics and has a personal best of 4.72 meters.
The much-vaunted meeting between Dima Kroyter and Niki Palli in the high jump also failed to produce much excitement. Palli, who has a personal best of 2.30 meters but has suffered from injuries in recent years, crashed out with the bar at only 2.10 meters. Then Kroyter, who set a personal best of 2.28 meters earlier this year, easily cleared 2.16 meters before failing three times at 2.22 meters.
The championships, which are free to the public, wind up today. Tonight's highlight will probably be the women's high-jump final, in which last year's Israeli female athlete of the year, Danielle Frenkel, will come up against former national champion Ma'ayan Foreman.