2012 Olympics

Toumarkin places 7th in backstroke finals, Korzits is well-placed in 3rd

Israel’s Olympic podium hopes dwindle as Zeevi, Tzuberi, Andy/Yoni fail

Israeli Swimmer Yakov Toumarkin prepares to compete in the 200 meter backstroke Olympic finals on Thursday, Aug. 2 (image capture Channel 1)
Israeli Swimmer Yakov Toumarkin prepares to compete in the 200 meter backstroke Olympic finals on Thursday, Aug. 2 (image capture Channel 1)

Swimmer Yakov Toumarkin failed to win Israel’s first ever Olympic medal in swimming but finished a creditable seventh in the finals of the 200 meter backstroke on Thursday.

Toumarkin, who clocked in at 1:57:62, is only the second Israeli swimmer to ever compete in an Olympics final. Eithan Urbach finished eighth overall in the 100 meter backstroke at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia.

Meanwhile, Israel’s two former Olympic medalists had disappointing performances on Thursday.

In a stunning defeat, Arik Zeevi, Israel’s top judoka, was eliminated from competition in less than a minute, quashing his hopes for a second Olympic medal.

Zeevi managed only 43 seconds against Dimitri Peters of Germany, before signaling that he could not continue. “I made a mistake and paid the price,” he told Army Radio, in tears.

Zeevi was forced to tap out after Peters managed to get him in a deadlock. He walked off the mat with his head bowed and eyes filled with tears.

“I had prepared for many scenarios,” Zeevi told reporters shortly after the match ended. The way this fight unfolded “wasn’t one of them. I need to watch the replay to understand what happened.”

The four-time European champion won a bronze medal at the Athens Games in 2004, and at age 35 the 2012 Games were most likely his last major international competition. Yet he refused to announce his retirement.

Zeevi was one of Israel’s few medal hopes, and said he was disappointed for himself and also “for the many fans” who supported him and bought tickets to see him.

President Shimon Peres called Zeevi to console him. Peres entreated Zeevi to not lose his spirit over the loss. “The one who wins sometimes also takes a blow,” the president said. “The real test is not to lose hope, even when taking those blows.”

Minister of Culture and Sports Limor Livnat also called Zeevi, telling him that his defeat did not change the fact that he is one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of Israel.

Windsurfer Shahar Tzuberi, a bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was disqualified in Race 5, and finished 12th in Race 6 on Thursday, thus making his chances for a medal extremely thin.

Tzuberi was one of four windsurfers who crossed the starting line before the horn was sounded to begin the fifth of 10 races in the windsurfing competition. As a result, he received a black flag disqualification, and an automatic share of last place for the race. He finished the sixth race a disappointing 12th, and at the end of the day his overall ranking in the competition was 10th.

With two days and four races remaining, only consistent first place finishes by Tzuberi, combined with a complete collapse of the top seven windsurfers in the competition, can earn him a medal.

Israel’s quest for gold took an additional hit when the tennis duo of Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich (Andy/Yoni) were eliminated in straight sets by American brothers Mike and Bob Bryan.

Ram and Ehrlich’s match with the Bryan brothers was interrupted by rain with their American opponents holding on to a 1-0 set lead. After the players returned to the court the Israelis dropped the second set, 7-6.

On the court at Wimbledon, the Bryan brothers — the world’s number one tennis duo — won the first set in a tie break 7-6, after the Israelis failed to capitalize on three set points. The second set also went to a tie break, which ended 12-10, as the Israelis double faulted out of the match.

Israel still has hopes for an Olympic medal with Lee Korzits, who is currently ranked third in the overall women’s windsurfing, and gymnast Alex Shatilov, whose big day is Sunday.


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