After a slow start to London 2012, the Israeli delegation enjoyed one of its greatest ever days in its 60 years of participation in the Olympics on Wednesday.
Remarkable accomplishments of historic proportions arrived from the different Olympic venues, from Weymouth in the south to Wimbledon in the west and of course from the Olympic Park itself.
Yakov Toumarkin became just the second Israeli swimmer to ever reach an individual Olympic final, recording a result of 1:57.33 minutes in the 200-meter backstroke semifinals, equal to the Israeli record he set in the morning heats, to advance from eighth place overall to Thursday’s final.
The 20-year-old, who became the first Israeli to win two medals in a single European Championships earlier this year, follows in the footsteps of Eitan Urbach, who ended the 100m back final in eighth place in the 2000 Sydney Games.
A few hours earlier, gymnast Alex Shatilov enhanced his reputation even further when he finished the individual all-around final in 12th place, which ended minutes after Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich advanced to the quarterfinals of the Olympic doubles tournament in stunning fashion, shocking Beijing 2008 gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Ram and Erlich were outplayed in the first set, but edged the Swiss team in a tight second set tiebreak and clinched the win thanks to a single break of serve in the third set.
It won’t be getting any easier for the Israeli duo, with No. 1 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan waiting in the last eight at Wimbledon.
“This is a massive achievement,” Ram said. “We were very nervous at the start, but we got our act together in the second set. It is amazing to beat Roger Federer, but I insist that this win is just another step towards the big goal.”
Earlier in the day, Lee Korzits strengthened her position in the top three of the women’s windsurfing competition in Weymouth.
Korzits, the current world champion, ended the first race of the day in seventh place, but followed it up with a second place finish to remain in second place overall after two days of competition.
Spain’s Marina Alabau continued to lead the competition after winning both of Wednesday’s races.
While everything has so far gone according to plan for Korzits, Shahar Zubari dropped further out of medal contention in the men’s windsurfing event, ending Races 3 and 4 in 17th and 10th, respectively, to remain in 10th overall after two days.
Nufar Edelman climbed three places to 30th in the women’s Laser Radial competition after ending Wednesday’s races in 29th and third place, respectively.
Korzits and Zubari will contest two more races on Thursday, with Edelman having the day off.
Also Thursday, Gidi Kliger and Eran Sela get their Olympics underway when the men’s 470 Class sailing competition begins in Weymouth.
Toumarkin’s achievement overshadowed Gal Nevo’s 10th-place finish in the 200 individual medley semis in a time of 1:59.17.
Nevo, who ended the 400m IM in 10th place on Saturday, clocked a time of 1:59.56m in the morning heats, progressing to the semis from 12th.
“I am in the best shape of my life and I proved it by placing in the top 10 in the 400m IM and reaching the semis in the 200m,” Nevo said.
Arik Ze’evi, arguably Israel’s greatest Olympian will take part in his fourth and final Games on Thursday.
Ze’evi will become just the third Israeli to participate in four Olympics and he will be looking to cap a glittering career with the biggest triumph of them all.
The 35-year-old’s career looked to be as good as ever after his early exit from the Beijing Games four years ago, but the bronze medalist from the 2004 Athens Olympics was crowned in April as European champion for the fourth time in his career and for the first time in eight years.
Source: The Jerusalem Post