Sunday, August 29, 2004

On the Head Heeb's blog someone calling himself JSinger reacted to the first Olympic gold medal being won by an Israeli: No offense meant to the Russians, but it's kind of gratifying that both Israel's first medal and first gold medal went to quintessential Sabras in typically Israeli sports, not to Soviet-trained lugers or figure skaters. Actually, for all the excitement about the influx of former-Soviet athletes, coaches and trainers (which probably has, in fact, had an effect on Israeli success in qualification and preliminary rounds), pretty much all the medals and major championships seem to come from the traditional Israeli pursuits of martial arts and sailing.
Not that I have any special affection ( or antipathy ) for 'the Russians' ( "some of my best friends are Russian" :-), no seriously, they are ), but I did reply to those biased views, that just are not true:
"Out of ( only ) 6 Israeli Olympic medals one was won by an Israeli athlete who immigrated from the FSU (*). Also, pole vaulter Alex Averbukh, who on Friday just did not show what he is capable of, was the 2000 European Indoor Champion, the 2001 World silver medalist and the 2002 European Champion. All pretty impressive achievements I'd say. With the small amount of Olympic medals won by Israelis I think it is still a bit early to claim victory for "the sabras vs the Russians". At least JSinger does not subdivide the number of medals into those won by ashkenzazim and sepharadim. Why can't we just enjoy the achievements of OUR sportsmen and -women and appreciate those athletes for what they are, ambassadors of Israel, not of one of its composing social/ethnic elements? Is it impossible even at such cheerful occasions to stand united as a people?"
(*) If I am not mistaken Michael Kalganov immigrated in the same year as I did.

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