In less than 23 hours, the London 2012 Olympic Games will begin. For those familiar with the Super Bowl half time show, the international appeal and grandiose nature of the opening ceremonies, the glitz and glamour will be on an unprecedented scale never before seen in any sporting event, even the Olympics! The opening ceremony will embrace the foundations of what sports are all about: teamwork, tradition, excitement and maybe even an inkling of peace that can only be achieved through sports.

Emotions will be high as eyes around the world watch as over 10,000 athletes from 204 countries will parade into the Olympic Stadium. All of the ceremonies will culminate with the dramatic lighting of the Olympic flame. This moment will mark the beginning of a 3 year and 51 week wait for many of these athletes.  The dedication, the countless hours of training and the sacrifice will be palpable as each athlete enters the Olympic stadium. For many, the sheer joy, excitement and success will overwhelm their ability to stay properly focused on the upcoming days of competition on the global stage.

Few athletes will successfully ride this emotional rollercoaster. Regardless of their future performances the pressure will be on. Unfortunately, many athletes will succumb to the intense pressure, and will be disappointed with their results. The goal for all is to learn how to stay focused despite the numerous judges and the crowds.  At the Olympics, the key is to perform on demand throughout the 17 days.

With 37 athletes coming to the Games, Israel’s team is comprised of a mix of rookies and veterans. For athletes returning to the Games after Beijing, London is an opportunity. It offers them the chance to prove to the world that they deserve to compete on this level.  For the first-time team members, they look to the veterans for mentoring on how to stay focused. The camaraderie allows all of the athletes to just step in and feel part of this great group even for the first time.

So who are the veterans on the Israeli Olympic team?

 

Arik Ze’evi is making his fourth and final appearance at the Games. For Alice Shlessinger, she’s returning after placing 13th in 2008. Alex Shatilov is competing for a 2nd time. Lee Kurzits is going for the gold like her ‘brother’ Gal Fridman who won in 2004. Shahar Zubari will try to take home more than a bronze, which he won in 2008. Gideon Kliger will be bringing a new partner to try and go for a medal after 2008. Nufar is a returning to the Olympics after competing in 2008 in the one-person dinghy.  Vered Bouskilla is a pro at the Games, this is her third. Nimrod Shapira Bar-On will try to win a medal after becoming the first Israeli to reach the semi-finals in 2008. Gal Nevo will also try to go for a medal after also reaching the semis in 2008.

While Jillian Schwartz will be competing for the Israeli team for the first time, she’s still a veteran to the Games after competing for team USA in 2004. The dynamic duo of Anastasia and Inna will make a repeat appearance.  And of course, Ehrlich and Ram who together have won 15 tournaments for Israel will go for the gold as a pair.

Regardless of how athletes feel during the opening ceremonies, it’s the ecstasy of knowing that there are fans around the world cheering them that inspires them to do their best. It’s this high- fans cheering- combined with athletes working their hardest that makes sports so addicting. So let’s cheer all of Team Israel.

Let the games begin!

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