VIDEO - In the past few years, Israeli sports have produced quite a few women athletes who went on to experience international successes. Tennis player Shahar Peer, basketball player Shay Doron and high jumper Danielle Frenkel are probably the most prominent of them.
This list may be joined soon by 19-year-old Laetitia Beck, the big star of Israeli golf who may soon become an Olympic hope too, with the inclusion of the club-and-ball sport's in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Watch interview with Laetitia Beck (Camera and editing: Yoed Cohen)
After immigrating to Israel
from Belgium at the age of six, studying golf at the Caesarea academy and becoming an Israeli champion when she was only 12, it's safe to say that Beck is a meteor in the sky of Israeli golf, a not-so-popular sport in our region, but one that does attract millions (of people and dollars) in the world in general and in the United States in particular.
"Golf is an individual sport, which requires a great deal of concentration and commitment. One of the best things about it is that it all depends on you, and you have no teammates or coach you can blame," says Beck in an interview to Ynet during a vacation in Israel.
Laetitia Beck, a champion in Caesarea (Image processing: Yoed Cohen)
Why a vacation in Israel, you ask? Well, Beck is currently studying at Duke University, one of the most prestigious universities in the United States.
The university decided to offer Laetitia a scholarship to represent Duke at national golf competitions, and in the meantime, the investment seems to be paying off with Beck leading the Blue Devil golf team to quite a few achievements.
"Sometimes, when there are difficult times, I may regret not choosing tennis, but most of the time I'm very happy with my choice," says Beck, who at the time was forced to choose between the two sports she excelled in as a child, and favored the one she inherited from her parents.
Beck with trophy in Caesarea. Beating men too (Photo: Yoed Cohen)
The day we arrived to interview Laetitia, she made history with the first victory of a woman over men in the Israel Open Golf Championship. The Caesarea Gold Club accepted her request to compete on higher levels and let her play against men rather than women.
"I wasn't looking to defeat men because it makes me happy, I just wanted to compete on a higher level and I'm glad I won," Beck says with a smile.
On the golf course she demonstrates a great amount of confidence and strength, but in person she conveys modesty with beautiful shy smiles.
Representing Israel a superior value. Beck's shoes (Photo: Yoed Cohen)
Beck, who plays with shoes clearly showing the Israeli flag, says that representing the State is a superior value, stressing that the gold medal she won at the Maccabiah has been the biggest achievement in her career so far. For an immigrant like her, it means so much.
After making quite a few sacrifices for the sake of her career – Beck traveled to the United States at the age of 14 to study in a golf academy, far from her parents' home in Caesarea – Laetitia favors training over the usual pleasures of people her age, like parties and alcohol.
"It's a bit difficult waking up at 6 am every morning, training and then starting a long school day, but this is my choice," she says.
'It's hard to wake up at 6 am every day, but that's my choice' (Photo: Yoed Cohen)
Watch the interview and meet the person playing Tiger Woods' sport, but here in Israel should be probably be defined as the Lionel Messi of Israeli golf. And who knows, in the 2016 Olympics we may be able to fantasize about medal in a new sport.