Ups and downs for Israeli delegation in London

Yakov-Yan Toumarkin second Israeli in history to compete in Olympics swimming finals; judoka Arik Zeevi ousted in less than a minute.

Israeli swimmer Yakov-Yan Toumarkin placed seventh in the men’s 200m backstroke event, marking both an extraordinary personal achievement as well as a feat for the whole delegation.

Toumarkin is only the second Israeli in history to compete in an Olympics swimming final. Eitan Orbach was the first Israeli swimmer to reach the finals in the Sydney 2000 Games.

The 20-year-old Toumarkin clocked in at 1:57.62 minutes and secured a seventh place finish. It was a great Olympics debut for Toumarkin who set a new Israeli record at the Olympics in his qualifying heat, stopping the clock at 1:57.33 minutes.

Swim team member Gal Nevo finished 10th in the semifinals and thus failed to advance in the men’s 200-meter individual medley. Despite not getting to the finals, Nevo’s time of 1:59.17 minutes was considered to be a great achievement for the Israeli swim team.

Moving to tennis, and doubles partners Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich provided great excitement in their first match up against former Olympic Swiss gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka. The duo came from behind to beat the favorites -6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

However, Ram and Erlich’s quarter-final match today (August 2) didn’t go the same way. The Israelis bowed out of the competition at the hands of American brothers Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

“We’re very pleased with the level of tennis we’ve played here this week. That’s how we wanted to play at the Olympics,” said Erlich.

“It was very tough to play so soon after beating Federer yesterday, but we gave it 100 per cent,” said Ram.

Gymnast Alex Shatilov placed 12th in the all-around competition yesterday. The good news is that he finished first in the artistic floor exercise portion of the event. And he is being hyped to win that elusive Israeli first medal when he competes in the floor exercise finals on August 5.

Today’s biggest upset by far came in judo when Arik Zeevi was eliminated in less than one minute. Dimitri Peters of Germany put Zeevi in a headlock and scored an ippon just 43 seconds into the match.

“I made a mistake and paid the price,” Zeevi told Israel’s Army Radio.

President Shimon Peres called Zeevi to console him and told the country’s most famous judoka that “people who win sometimes have to take a heavy blow.” Peres reminded Zeevi that throughout his career he brought much glory to Israel. “Look after your dignity. We’re all proud of you. Don’t give up. Stay strong,” Peres told him.

In other Olympic news, windsurfer Lee Korzits finished the third day of the eight-day RS:X contest in third place. In the men’s RS:X event, Shahar Zubari – who is hoping to return to the podium following his bronze medal in Beijing – is currently in 10th place.

Sailors Eran Sela and Gideon Kliger finished their first day of competition in the men’s 470 in 14th place.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.