The Summer Olympic Games are here and all eyes are looking towards Rio de Janeiro. The Olympic Committee of Israel is cautiously hoping that Israeli athletes will succeed in stepping on the podium at this summer’s games.
While not a powerhouse sports nation, Israel does have some world-class athletic aptitude.
ISRAEL21c combed through the country’s sports archives to find these 18 things you should know about Israel at the Olympics:
1. Israel has won seven Olympic medals — five bronze, one silver and one gold — since it first competed as a nation in 1952. The medalists: Yael Arad (silver, judo, 1992), Oren Smadja (bronze, judo, 1992); Gal Fridman (bronze, sailing, 1996); Michael Kolganov (bronze, canoeing, 2000); Ariel Zeevi (judo, bronze, 2004), Gal Fridman (gold, sailing, 2004); Shahar Zubari (bronze, sailing, 2008).
2. Israel will send 47 athletes to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
3. All of Israel’s Olympic medals were won during the Summer Games.
4. Israel’s physically disabled athletes have won 380 medals at the Paralympic Games.
5. Israel will send 30 athletes to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.
6. The 1968 Paralympic Games were held in Tel Aviv after the Mexican government cited technical difficulties in hosting the contest alongside the Olympics event.
7. This is the first time in 24 years that Israeli athletes are participating in the Olympics without having won at least one medal in the previous Games. The Paralympians, on the other hand, won one gold, two silver and five bronze medals at London in 2012.
8. Israeli swimmers inaugurated the pool at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The Hebrew-speaking swim team was the first allowed into the swimming pools at the $38 million aquatics center for the 2016 games.
9. Fashion retail chain Castro designed the Israeli Olympic team’s 2016 outfits. Actually, this is the sixth consecutive time that the Israeli fashion house put its mark on the official Olympic uniform. This year’s outfit – a jacket, T-shirt and pants – features blue and white shades of the flag and overlapping triangles that clearly reference the Star of David. (Some critics say the Olympic team looks like El Al flight attendants as opposed to sporty athletes).
10. Athletes Donald Blair-Sanford (sprinter, USA), Lonah Chemtai Korlima (marathon runner, Kenya), Linda Bolder (judo, The Netherlands), Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko (triple jumper, Ukraine) and Marharyta Serhiïvna Dorozhon (javelin, Ukraine) moved to Israel for love and then trained to become Israeli Olympians. (Dorozhon was disqualified at the last minute and is not competing in Rio.)
11. Sprinter Donald Blair-Sanford’s first Olympics experience was horrific: he had his shoes stolen moments before his race at the London Games.
12. Before flying to the competition, Israel’s Olympic delegation always holds a memorial ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by “Black September” terrorists during at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
13. Shani Bloch-Davidov is the first Israeli female cyclist to compete in the Olympic Games. The 37-year-old mother-of-three, who came out of retirement to compete in Rio, also holds the honor of being the first Israeli woman to take part in the Tour de France.
14. Freestyle wrestler Ilana Kratysh, who will compete in Rio, is Israel’s first female Olympic wrestler.
15. Ron Darmon is the first Israeli to compete in the Olympic triathlon. The 23-year-old is not a medal hopeful but hopes to finish in the top half of the athletes swimming 1.5 kilometers, cycling 40km, and running 10km.
16. Professional golfer Laetitia Beck is the first-ever Israeli to compete in golf at the Olympics. The sport is making its return after a more than 100-year hiatus from the Summer Games.
17. Israel hosts its own version of the Olympics called the Maccabiah Games every four-years. The event, recognized by the International Olympic Committee, started in 1932 and is considered the third-largest sporting event in the world.
18. Israel Post issues stamps in honor of the Olympic Games. The 2016 stamp sheets feature judo, sailing, track and field and an Olympic Games Rio 2016 souvenir leaf.