Athletics / European Championships / Sanford Reaches 400m Final

High jumper Jillian Schwartz, triple jumper Yochai Halevi also advance in Helsinki competition.

When the Israeli delegation headed to Helsinki for the Athletics European Championships, everyone spoke of the prospects of Dima Kroyter, Maayan Forman and Anastasia Muchkaev of reaching the Olympics. No one really took Donald Sanford into account, despite the American immigrant's progress in the 400 meters.

Yesterday, Sanford made everyone take notice when he advanced into the final by finishing second in his heat and fourth overall. Sanford ran the race in 45.77 seconds, 0.47 seconds shy of the Olympic criterion for London.

"It's my Olympic opportunity," said Sanford, who competes today in the final. He added that he no doubt wants to reach London, but he wants to win a European Championship medal even more.

The second day of competition yielded two other finals for Israelis. Jillian Schwartz, who already has a spot in the Israeli delegation to London, reached the final after clearing 4.40 meters in the pole vault, her best result this year. Yochai Halevi advanced to the triple jump final after finishing sixth with a leap of 16.67 meters.

Muchkaev disappointed, hurling just 15.38 meters in the shot put, not enough to make the finals. She is now officially out of the running for Israel's final Olympic spot.