By Mordecai Holtz

Tal Brody, nicknamed Mr. Basketball, is one of Israel’s modern-day sports heroes.  He in many ways is a symbol of what Israel can achieve in even at such a young age. Here is a clip from Mr. Brody’s past and present.

As Team Israel prepares for the London Games, we decided to speak to Mr. Brody about his views on sports in Israel, the Olympics, and the future of sports here.

Have you ever been to the Games?

No. I’d love to as an individual and as a coach or something.

Were you ever close to going?

Over the years, we’ve been pretty close; the Israeli National Basketball Team has played in 3 pre-Olympic competitions. We’d probably have a better chance if we didn’t need to go through the European league. It’s a tough league. If we were in the Asia or Africa league we’d have a great chance. That would be fun.

What is your favorite Olympic sport?

Basketball, of course.! Outside of this, I love gymnastics, swimming and running.

Where will you be watching the games?

The way the Olympics should be watched, at home with family.

As an ambassador of good will, what message do you try to transmit to the athletes who are going to the Olympics?

I always start by saying that Israel is the “Sports Capital of the Middle East.” That is to say of the 200+ countries competing in the Olympics, Israel has won more medals in its 60 years of competition than many have ever won. It’s a testament to our dedication and pride in sports and a commitment to success.

With 38 athletes this year, a strong representation at the Games, shows our gradual and progressive growth in investing in the future of Israel’s sports.

What are some of the areas in which Israel is investing, in terms of sports?

Ice Hockey. Yes, it sounds strange. I recently spent time with Sid Greenberg (philanthropist behind the Metulla Center), I was inspired by seeing children from the Druze from Majdal Shams, Arabs and Christians from Nazareth and Jews from the surrounding areas all participating in Ice Hockey, I realized that this is our future. Sports has that ability.

The National Team will be playing at the next Maccabiah Games! Ice Hockey and roller hockey seem to really be picking up speed here. Who knew?!

Are there any Olympic athletes that we should look out for?

There are so many! Here are a few.

  • In Judo, Arik Zeevi
  • Shachar Zubari and Lee Korzits have an excellent chance to win medals, maybe even golds!
  • Zohar Zamiro could place nicely.
  • Neta Rivkin has great medal potential. She’s inspiring as are so many of the other Russian olim who have reinforced a variety of gymnastic sports in Israel.
  • Our synchronize swimming pair- Anastasia Gloushkov and Inna Yoffe
  • In Tennis, I love Shachar Peer and the ‘dynamic duo’ of Andy Rom and Ehrlich

Our strength has always been Judo.

Any message for all of us fans and spectators?

We’re a young country but we’re getting there, watch and be amazed! Go Team Israel!

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