Israeli Olympic Excitement

The excitement in Israel over Gal Friedman's win yesterday of Israel's first Olympic gold medal refuses to die down, and the euphoria has been compared to the most glorious times in Israeli history.

, | updated: 17:28

The excitement in Israel over Gal Friedman's win yesterday of Israel's first Olympic gold medal refuses to die down. Radio announcers have compared the feeling of national pride and euphoria to the mood following the Entebbe rescue and even the Six Day War. Voice of Israel Radio even played a Six Day War song entitled "Lamnatze'ach Shir Mizmor," which is a series of verses from Psalms praising G-d. Friedman said that upon his return to Israel, he would visit the monument to the 11 Israeli athletes murdered in the 1972 Munich Olympics by PLO terrorists.

See this article on the premier Olympic performance of the Hatikvah.

Friedman won his medal in the windsurfing competitions, spread out over several days and ending yesterday. His trainer, Gur Steinberg, also made headlines for having left his job as an engineer at Motorola to train Friedman, with no guarantee of remuneration. In a televised discussion with Education and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, who arrived in Athens to celebrate the victory, Steinberg lamented the fact that trainers are not recognized for their efforts. "In France," he told Livnat, "the minister would have given a trainer with my record a position equal to a school principal or supervisor... You have helped the Olympic athletes, but you must also build an infrastructure of trainers, just like teachers are developed."

Friedman's record in the 11 windsurfing races of the Olympics netted him only 42 negative points, ahead of his friend Nicos Kaklamanakis, who won the silver medal with 52 points, and Britain's Nick Dempsey - the surprise winner of yesterday's race - who finished third with 53. Friedman won two races, finished 2nd once - yesterday - and 3rd twice. Israel is currently in 44th place in the Olympics, with one gold and one bronze (Arik Ze'evi in Judo).

In other Israeli Olympic news, Alex Averbukh made it to the pole-vaulting finals yesterday when he cleared 5.70 meters; he will compete on Friday for a medal against 11 others... Ro'i Yellin will take part in the men's 1,000-meter rowing finals on Friday afternoon, after finishing the semi-finals in third place... Larisa Pesahovitch finished third in the semi-finals in the women's' 500-meter rowing competition, and will participate in the final competition... Israeli rower and bronze-medalist (Sydney Olympics) Michael Kolganov failed this morning in his bid to reach the men's' finals, as did martial artist Maya Arusi....


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