Rio Olympics: Israel sees gains, setbacks on first day

Israel’s representatives at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games under-performed on the first day, though tennis player Dudi Sela offered some hope when he scored a win.

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games commenced on Friday evening with Israel’s 47-member delegation, the largest ever to be sent by the Jewish State to the Olympic Games, marching among some 10,000 athletes from 207 delegations.

With hopes of coming home with medals, and hearing Israel’s anthem played at the Rio stadium, Israel’s delegation marched proudly in the opening procession, with rhythmic gymnast Neta Rivkin bearing the Israeli flag at its head.

However, the first day of competitions did not bode well for Israel’s Olympic team.

Israel had a poor opening day on Saturday, with its representatives in swimming, gymnastics and athletics failing to qualify for the finals.

Gymnast Alex Shatilov failed to pass the qualifying round after attaining a 14.066 in the men’s horizontal bar and a 13.5 in his floor exercise, the latter considered to be his forte. His run was marred with small errors and ended with a poor landing.

Judoka Shira Rishoni lost her first match in the Women’s 48kg division. Rishoni was disqualified after 2 minutes for illegally touching her Ukrainian opponent’s leg.

In swimming, Gal Nevo ranked 19th in the Men’s 400m individual medley, failing to make the finals.

Amit Ivry, who finished 27th, will not compete in the women’s finals in the 100 meter butterfly race.

In the Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, Israel’s delegation made a historic first appearance in the games after a last minute disqualification of the Belarusian team. The team, which includes Amit Ivry, Zohar Shikler, Keren Siebner and Andrea Murez, finished 8th and failed to qualify.

Tennis player Dudi Sela was the first ray of hope for the day when he scored a win in the first round.

Sela, who is ranked 65th in the world, beat his Bosnian opponent Damir Dzumhur 6-4 6-4. Sela will face off with the winner between Australian Sam Groth and Belgian David Goffin, who is ranked 13.

Israel’s delegation said it is looking forward to achievements in pending competitions, where Israel is believed to have a better chance.

In the meantime, the chairman of the Egyptian Olympic Committee has announced that the match between Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby and Israel’s Or Sasson will take place as scheduled. Hisham Khattab said that although he opposes competing against Israel, no one can be allowed to shatter the dreams of a young Egyptian at the Olympic Games just because the opponent is an Israeli.

Arab competitors have boycotted their Israeli opponents in international competitions and sometimes have paid the price of disqualification because they refused to compete.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News