Only The Memories Are Golden


Israel is still in the bronze age.

A largely unsuccessful week and a half for Israel’s athletes in the Beijing Olympics, marked by several near-medal performances, improved when windsurfer Shahar Zubari, top right, finished third in his event, the same one that brought Israel’s first-ever Olympic gold medal, by Gal Fridman, in Athens four years ago. Zubari’s come-from-behind bronze medal performance was Israel’s only appearance on the winner’s podium by midweek.

Earlier, Israeli athletes finished tantalizing close. Judoka Gal Yekutiel lost in the bronze medal round. Sailors Nike Kornicki and Vered Buskila finished fourth. Judoka Arik Zeevi, center right, and gymnast Alexandr Shatilov, right, also came home empty-handed.
And New Zealand sailor Jo Aleh finished seventh after leading at the halfway point of her laser radial event.

Then there was Dara Torres. And her famous fingernails. The 41-year-old mother, above left, the oldest swimmer ever to win an Olympic medal, lost her 50-meter freestyle sprint race by a hundredth of a second, giving the American three silver medals, two in relays and one in an individual race, at this year’s Games. During her four Olympics, she’s won 12 medals.

She kiddingly blamed her fingernails for her narrow margin of defeat in the sprint. She shouldn’t have filed them the night before the race, she told reporters.

The Israeli delegation took time out from the competition to remember the past — a memorial service at the Hilton Beijing for the 11 Israeli Olympians killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Summer Olympics at Munich drew such figures as Juan Antonio Samaranch, former president of the International Olympic Committee, the Israeli ambassador to China and Israel’s minister of science, culture and sports.