Immigrants from Ethiopia, excelling as runners and tolerant of pain, could bring Israel closer to Olympic medals.
A select group of Ethiopian men between the ages of 22 and 29, all of whom have completed army service, are undergoing intensive competitive training under a program being conducted by the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, with the cooperation of the Defense Ministry, assorted sports clubs and various other official bodies.
There are high hopes for the Ethiopian Jews, who are believed to possess the same tolerance for pain as athletes from East Africa, who have long dominated long-distance running in international meets.
The program, which operates from the Ramat Efal Kibbutz Seminar, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, also offers academic studies for the young immigrants, most of whom have been in Israel for about 10 years.
They are also being prepared for high school matriculations and university entry-level standards.
Ramat Efal students have already won local marathons and other long-distance races, holding out hopes for Israeli medals at future Olympic games.