The sports director of the Israeli Olympic Delegation is hoping their largest ever Olympics squad can win the country’s eighth medal in Games history.
Speaking ahead of the start of the Rio Games, which get underway with tomorrow night’s opening ceremony at the iconic Maracana stadium, Danny Oren, the director of the Elite Sporting Department of the Israeli Olympic Association, told Jewish News at least one medal and places in ten finals would constitute a successful tournament.
Despite having taken part in all but one Summer Olympic Games since 1952, they’ve only reached the podium seven times, with their one gold win coming from Gal Fridman at the 2004 Games in Athens. Oren said: “A good Games for us will be to win at least one medal and then see athletes reach ten finals – that for us will be satisfactory.”
Helping them in their quest to add to their medal tally is the fact they’re taking their largest ever delegation, the total of 47 being four more than the previous record set at the 2008 Games in Beijing. But insisting that doesn’t mean there’s more pressure on the country’s athletes to deliver, he said: “I think the opposite, the biggest delegation we’ve ever had means there’s less pressure. The squad is also more equally divided, in fact it’s 54-46 percent in favour of women and we are happy with that.”
Highlighting where he thinks an eighth medal can be won, he said: “We could get a medal in judo, athletics, rhythmic gymnastics and sailing. We also have a very good triple jumper in Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko. If things go right, she could get a medal.”
Adding that excitement back home in Israel is building, he said: “Since June, everyone’s interest in Israel was with the European Championships, but now it’s time for the Olympics – and I think during the Games, there will be even more [interest than for the Euro’s]. “There’s a lot of interest in the Games, a lot of the television channels, the news and sport channels and newspapers are talking about it – and about our athletes. We can’t wait for the start.”