Israel will host the 2014 European Weightlifting Championships starting Saturday, April 5, through Sunday, April 13.
Weightlifters from all over Europe are due to arrive in Tel Aviv this week to participate in the competition, after an ongoing Foreign Ministry strike nearly prevented them from attending.
With the doors of Israeli embassies shut worldwide, 100 athletes were unable to get Israeli visas in time to attend the competition. However, the Tel Aviv Municipality, in conjunction with the Interior Ministry, took steps to ensure that the athletes would be granted Israeli visas on arrival.
Four Israeli athletes will also participate in the tournament: Anatoly Mushik (85 kg), David Litvinov and Igor Olshezkiy (+105 kg), and Oxana Zalotova (53 kg).
Litvinov, who won the bronze medal in the European junior and under-23 weightlifting championships in 2013, said the Israeli team members were “ready” to face their European competition.
“We’re ready. We have the advantage of being at home. There are many more people to cheer us on, and that’s fun,” said Litvinov.
From Tuesday, a special hangar at the Tel Aviv port with see-through walls will serve as a training compound for the weightlifters. The public will be invited to watch the training sessions as well as the competition itself, which will take place in the brand-new stadium of the city’s Tichonet school, free of charge.
The championship, which will be held in Israel for the first time, is expected to bring about 500 athletes and accompanying personnel from 40 different countries to Tel Aviv. It is also expected to draw crowds of local sports enthusiasts and garner attention from European fans.
Ahead of the championship, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said that while the competition wasn’t expected to draw massive crowds, as a soccer championship would, it was a championship that was “watched on television by many, all across Europe.”
Huldai said the city was happy to host such a “prestigious” championship.
“We’ll do all we can to make sure that the championship goes ahead as planned,” Huldai said.
Among the contenders coming to Tel Aviv will be 23-year-old Russian weightlifting champion Tatiana Kashirina, who holds the clean and jerk world record of 190 kg, the snatch world record of 151 kg and the total world record of 334 kg.
Yet another competitor is Russian champion weightlifter Ruslan Albegov, who won the bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics with a combined total of 448 kg.