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At the Olympic Games: the Israeli Teams Tried Harder

August 14, 1984
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Israel did as well as expected in the 1984 Olympic Games, according to officials of the Israel Olympic Committee. The Israeli team was realistic about its potential as it faced its opponents, although anything can happen in a sports competition. Upsets are possible at all times, especially in the highly emotional atmosphere of the most visible sports festival in the world.

In one field the Israelis were successful. Its representatives participated in all meetings of the International Olympic Committee and the various international sports federations as an equal member in good standing, along with representatives of the other 139 nations that were present.

In the past, attempts have been made to eliminate Israel from sports federations and zone competitions. These moves on the part of the Arab countries have diminished since Israel was transferred from the Asian Zone to the European Zone.

“It is better for us to be in the European Zone than in Asia,” said Isaac Ofek, president of the Israel Olympic Committee. “We are closer to the meetings and to the tournaments. It is easier for us to participate, and it is much less expensive.”

“We do not have the problems that we had in Asia,” added Itzhak Caspi, secretary general. “We get along better with the officials, and the playersrelate better to the players they meet.”


In Los Angeles, there were frequent encounters between Israeli and Arab officials and players. Conversations and contacts ranged from distant and polite to warm and cordial, depending on previous meetings and personal relations.

“This is always the way in sports,” reflected Uri Afek, Assistant Chef de Mission. “We are friendly with people that we have met before and whom we know. We do not discuss polities. Players are especially careful not to talk about their military experience or where they have served. We are meeting like true sportsmen in the spirit of the Olympics.”


Some of the athletes performed better than expected, ending higher in the final ratings of their sports than had been calculated earlier. Others failed to achieve marks as good as their previous performances. “But we have learned,” shrugged one coach. “Our players have had the test of fire now. We will do better from now on, in intemational competitions. It has been a long time for some of us since we have had the opportunity to compete in this manner.”

“Now we will go back and start to work for 1988,” he added, referring to the leadership that coaches will give to their sports, as well as to the inspiration that the younger competitors will have to continue.


This year, Israel’s best chance ever to win its first Olympic medal rested with two sailors, Shimson Brokman and Eitan Friedlander. The two came in strong in their closing races in the 470 class of yachting, but their poor showing in the earlier days held them to a tie for seventh place with Britain. Their net score of 70 points was quite a bit behind the winning score of 33.70 points by Spain. The U.S. team of Stephen Benjamin and H. Christopher Steinfeld won the silver medal with 43 points, and France was a narrow third over West Germany.

In the Flying Dutchman class, Yoel Sela and Eldad Amir were seventh with 65.40 points. The U.S. was first with 19.70. In boardsailing, Yehuda Atedji was 14th with 111.60 points, far behind the 27.70 scored by the Nether lands’ gold medal winners.

Maya Bentzur was eliminated in the preliminaries of the women’s broad long jump. Her leap of 19.11 feet was seventh in her group. Mark Handelsman was eliminated in his heat of the 1500 meters, and fared no better in the 400 and 800 meters.

Niki Drori was ranked 17th in the women’s foil competition and Lydia Hatuel was 26th. Itzhak Hatuel was 16th in the men’s foil competition, and Shlomo Ayal was 17th.

In women’s gymnastics, Limor Friedman was ranked 59th with 68.65 points and Nancy Goldsmith was 60th with 72.05 points. In men’s gymnastics, Yaakov Levy was 42nd with 106.5 points, and Yohanan Moyal was 43rd with 110.80 points.

Itzchak Yonassi scored 582 points in men’s air rifle competition to finish eighth in that event. He was 39th in the three position rifle competition which involves shooting from a prone, kneeling and standing position. Yair Davidovitz was 46th in the three position event, 23rd in prone rifle and 53rd in air rifle.

Aviram Mizrachi was fourth in the 500-meter men’s kayak race.


It is not possible to know how many social contacts that members of other national teams had during the Olympic Games, but the Israelis were on a tough schedule almost every evening.

More than 2,000 people turned out last Wednesday evening for a ranch-style picnic sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles to greet and toast the Israeli delegation. It capped a round of major and minor events — serious, religious, entertaining and informal — which were hosted by a variety of community groups, congregations and individuals with close contacts with Israel.

It would be difficult also to count the number of personal and family contacts initiated and continued during the 28 days that the Israeli team spent in Southern California. Suffice to say that the telephones at the UCLA Olympic Village were ringing off the hooks at least 18 hours a day.

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