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July 20, 2012

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PAGE 18A By Ben Sales TEL AVIV (JTA)--One is nearing the.end of his career, already has an Olympic medal and is eyeing anbther. The other is a decade younger, an up-and- comer who has enjoyed some success but is aiming for her first medal at the Games. Ariel "Arik" Ze'evi, 35, and Alice Schlesinger, 24, are stand- outs on the Israeli Olympicjudo team and two of their nation's best medal hopes at the London Games that begin later this month. Ze'eviwon bronze eightyears agoinAthensand expects towin a medal this year after faltering in Beijing in 2008. Holding a camera while the Israeli media photographed him on Sunday, Ze'evi sounded like a soon-to-be retiree going on vacation. He talked about "enjoying the experience" and "staying calm." Beneath the relaxed air, however, was a determined and optimistic veteran. Ze'evi won the gold medal at the European Judo Championships in April, and as the 38-person Israeli Olympic delegation's senior member, he has emerged as one of its leaders. "I'm very calm. but there's still time" before the Olympics, By Ben sales HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 20, 201P Judokas Alice Schlesinger and Arik Ze'evi power Israel's medal hopes ....... :ii!! Moshe Shai/Flash90/JTA Israelijudoka Arik Ze 'evi, winner of a bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics, says he expects to win a medal at the London Games. he said. "We don't prepare for failure.We don't set up scenarios wherewe don'tsucceed. It's bet- ter to have positive thoughts." Ze'evi says he is "sure" that these are his last Olympics. If he were to participate in Rio de Janiero four years from now, at age 39, he would "compete with little kids," he said. Another bronze-winning Israel judoka is heading to London: Oren Smadja is one of the five-person judo team's coaches. Smadja, 42. believes that the medal he won in 1992 paved the way for more recent Israeli successes in judo. like Ze'evi's bronze in Athens. "[My] medal led to people practicing," said Smadja. who acknowledged that he prefers competing to coaching. "I don't remember a delegation this strong. Some of [this year's] team didn't think they could get into the Olympics,.With my dedication and desire, I think I was" one of the impetuses for the team's strong performance. The Israelijudo team is com- ing offa strmg performance at the European matches, where it earned four medals. Ze'evi Noam Moskowit z/Flash90/JTA Israeli Olympian Alice Schlesinger practicing her judo moves with her coach, Olympic bronze medalist Oren Smadja, July 9. and Smadja are hoping that Schlesinger finds her way to the podium at the Olympics. "She's been [training] with mesinceshewas 16," Ze'evi said of Schlesinger. "I've seen her go from a promising athlete into one of the best in the world." Smadja calls her "a serious candidate for a medal." Schlesinger, who is "very satisfied that Arik is 35 and still competing," voices cautious optimism about her chances in London. She did not win a medal in Beijing but has since won three bronzes--at the 2009 world championships and at the 2009 and 2012 European -championships. But unlike Ze'evi, who sets the bar high for himself, Schlesinger says only that she hopes to "go home in peace" from London. "Like everyone else I want a medal," she says, "but I want to enjoy it." Smadja notes that "not ev- erybody says 'I'm going to win a medal.'" Close relationships and judo have always come together for Schlesinger. Her brother intro- duced her to the sport as a child, and she attributes her success to her parents,whowould takeher to competitions on weekends. NOw her boyfriend, Pav- el Musin, also is her coach. Schlesinger says Musin's dual - roles "help me a lot." "To be in such an intense situation and be so close makes the experience different, makes it fun," she said. Schlesinger saysher roman- tic relationship relieves stress from practices rather than augmenting it. "Between every coach and athlete there are moments of tension,"shesaid."Butwehave to solve them because we have to go home [together] at night." Israel's Olympians heading to London thinking medals, remembering slain, countrymen "I'm very calm, but there's the murders, the IOC has sihce the country's first-ever tics team took bronze in the still time" before the O!ym- TEL AVIV (JTA)--Israelis pics, said Ze'evi, who at 35 and their Summer Olympics is the team's oldest mem- athletesareeyeingtheupcom- ber. "We don't prepare for ing London Games with ex- failure." citementanddisappointment. The Israeli squad, which Theathletesarehopingthat is scheduled to arrive at the never held a formal moment of silence for the slain Israelis. IOC officials have participated in Jewish community events surroundingvarious Olympic Games since the tragedy. The London Games also mark the 60th year since Israel's first Olympic appear- ance, in Helsinki, Finland. It took another 40 years for an Israeli to win a medal, but since 1992 the delegation has taken home at least one medal, including three each in judo and windsurfing, and one in kayaking. This year, the team hopes to add a fourth sport to the list. Zinger also would like to see an Israeli woman stand on the podium for the first time Olympic From page IA She won a gold medal that summer in the quadrennial event known as the Jewish Olympics. Schwartz returned to Israel in December and "definitely felt a connection." Soon af- terward she applied for citi- zerAship. '"I came during Chanukah and it was cool because it was like a holiday at home--.the same traditions, the same prayers," she said, Schwartz now splits time between Germany--where she competes--Arkansas and Israel, which she visits four or five times a year. Sanford's connection to Israel began at Arizona State University, where he  met a fellow student named Danielle Dekel, the kibbutznik who would become his wife. Raised in an athletic family--his medal in '92, whenjudokaYael Arad took the silver. Nearly half of this year's delegation is female. "Because of the work we did in the past few years, all of our athletes are better," Zinger said, noting particu- larly the gymnastics team as a potential medal winner. He said he was hopeful for at least one more medal in judo or sailing. Leading the gymnastics efforts will be all-around gymnast Alex Shatiiov, who finished eighth in the last Olympics in the floor exercise and won the silver at the 2011 world championships. Also last year, the six-member women's rhythmic gymnas- world championships, All of the rhythmic team's members are under 22. Another hope for Israel's first female medalist in 20 years comes in what may be Israel's best Olympic sport-- judo.Alice Schlesinger, 24, did not medal in Beijing but has since won three bronzes--in the 2009 world champion- ships, and in the 2009 and 2012 European champion- ships. Schlesinger says she hopes to "go home in peace" from London. "Like everyone else I want a medal, but I want to enjoy it," she said. Typically, the Israeli team has a strong international flavor. Several of the ath- brother played college football and his sister professional basketball in Europe--he was pursuing a track career at the university. Sanford married Dekel in 2008 and now lives half the year on her family's kibbutz, Ein Shemer, on Israel's north- ern coast, spending the rest of the year in Arizona. While he was not raised Jewish, he said he has become close with his wife's family and kibbutz community, spend- ing evenings and Shabbats with them. Sanford, 25, says the Israe- lis have "welcomed him with open arms" at competitions here. He calls his invitation to Israel's Olympic delegation "a dream come true." "The people and "the sense of family and pride [in Israel] made me feel more comfort- able," Sanford said. "It's been more difficult not seeing my mom and brothers and sister." Efraim Zinger, head of Is- rael's Olympic delegation, says he views Schwartz and San- ford like any other members oft.he team, notasAmericans. "They're Israelis with an Israeli passport," he said. "It's fun to be with them. They're professional sportsmen. That they trained in America and lived in America doesn't matter." Schwartz and Sanford both chose their sports partly out of an aversion to running long distances. Sanford used to run the 1500 meters (approximately one mile), but in high school he "got sick and tired" of the distance and switched to the 400 meters. Schwartz recalls that in high school, she tried "ev- erything that didn't take run- ning." She eventually wound up dedicating herself to pole Olympics complex on July 10, also is preparing for some somber moments in London Team members will be partici- pating in a public memorial ceremony on Aug. 6 for the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The IOC has resisted calls for a minute of silence for the victims despite an online petiti0nwith nearly 90,000 signatures and the urging of the U.S. Senate, as well as Australian, Canadian, British and German lawmakers. israeli delegation head Efraim Zinger said the IOC is "obligated" to remember the Munich 11 as "athletes and Olympians." Other than the day after ' for the sixth straight summer Games, at least one of them will come home witha medal. Yet they are well aware that the International Olympics Com- mittee has again spurned the campaign to have a moment of silence for their counterparts slain 40 years ago at the Mu- nich Games. The London Games, which begin July 27, will have 38 Israeli Olympians participat- ingin 18 events. Their top medal hopefuls are in judo, sailing and gymnastics. This year's delegation features two bronze medalists--wind- surfer Shahar Tzuberi, from Beijing in 2008, and jud01a Ariel Ze'evi, from Athens in 2004. Sudoku solution from page 7 824963571 llll ii 137528964 569471823 3582471 96- 712639485 496815732 182657 756349 943 ill 281 675394218 letes were born in the Soviet Union, and two were born and raised in the United States--pole vaulter Jiilian Schwartz and 400-meter sprinter Donald Sanford. Shwartz connected with Israel after competing here in 2009, while Sanford, who is not Jewish, married an Israeli and lives part of the year on her family's kibbutz. Both are now Israeli citizens. For his part, Sanford seems to have settled in well with his new Israeli family. "Her ima, her abba and her savta live 400 meters from where we live," said Sanford, using the Hebrew words for his wife's mother, father, and grandmother. "We see them every day." vaulting and competed in the event while at Duke Univer- sity before making the U.S. Olympics team. Schwartz says she appreciates the mix of physical fitness" and technical skill that the sport demands. Sanford; competing in his first Olympics,says he doesn't "want to put a limit" on him- self with concrete expecta- tions. Schwartz in her second Olympics hopes to make the final round and surpass 4.60 meters (about 15 feet, 1 inch), which is below her personal best of 4.72 (about 15 feet, 5 inches). Schwartz says she is un- fazed competing against her former American teammates. "You're really competing against yourself, how high you can go," she said. "It's a lot of the same people I've been competing against for nine years or 10."