Appendix Surgery Sidelines Israeli Olympic Swimmer Kopelev

Kopelev began complaining of stomach pains Thursday during the Israel Swimming Championships.

A tough, unexpected blow hit the Israeli Olympic delegation Saturday night. Jonathan Kopelev, the newly crowned European champion in the 50-meter backstroke, had to have an emergency appendectomy which will likely keep him out of the London Games.

Kopelev began complaining of stomach pains Thursday during the Israel Swimming Championships, and dropped out of the competition. His condition worsened Saturday and a CT scan revealed he needed to have his appendix taken out immediately. The surgery was conducted at Meir Hospital.

"I suffered from insane pains and suddenly I understand that I'm on the way to an operation," Kopelev said yesterday in his recovery room. "I am able to walk a little, but it's unsure what will happen now. The doctors are not optimistic that I'll be able to compete, but I'll try my best."

Kopelev's doctors say full recovery from this type of surgery could take six weeks, and the swimmer will be released only on Thursday - the day the Israeli swimming team is scheduled to fly to London. Kopelev's first heat is supposed to be on the second day of the Games, and they think he most likely will be unable to compete. (Tal Ben Ezra )

AP