On July 26 – less than 200 days from now, the 2024 Olympic Games will begin in Paris, and Israel's delegation will be packing one hell of a punch, with no fewer than four world champions across four disciplines. Israeli citizens, saturated with painful and traumatizing news for the past several months, could perhaps smile a bit should these world champions replicate their athletic prowess in competition in Paris. So who are these exceptional athletes?
The Israeli artistic gymnast, has achieved remarkable success in recent years. He secured the title of the 2020 Olympic champion and the 2023 World champion on the floor exercise. Additionally, he won two silver medals at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships on the floor exercise. Dolgopyat has also demonstrated his prowess in the European Championships, becoming the champion of the floor exercise in both 2020 and 2022.
Known for his specialization in the floor exercise, Dolgopyat is particularly recognized for his execution of a triple backflip. In 2022, he clinched the gold medal for his floor exercise routine at the European Gymnastics Championships held in Munich. In October 2023, Dolgopyat achieved another milestone by winning the gold medal in the men's floor exercise final at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp.
Kantor embarked on her competitive journey at the age of 11 and achieved her first international title in a youth competition for under 15 by the age of 13. Kantor represents the Michmoret Emek Hefer Sailing Club.
In May 2023, Kantor represented Israel at the European Windsurfing Championships in the IQFoil class. Throughout the competition, she demonstrated skill and determination, winning four races and earning a silver medal. She also secured another silver medal in the under-21 category. Kantor's abilities were further recognized when she won a bronze medal at the World Cup in Lanzarote later that year. Adding to her accomplishments, she achieved a gold medal at the pre-Olympic competition held in Marseille, France.
As the year came to a close, Kantor's success continued. In December 2023, at the last World Series competition before the World Championship, she claimed a gold medal, surpassing two fellow Israeli sailors. In early February 2024, at the World Championships in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Kantor once again demonstrated her talent and determination. She emerged as the gold medalist, surpassing Emma Wilson from Britain and Katy Spichakov from Israel.
The Israeli judoka has achieved notable successes in her judo career. She secured the gold medal in the 2020 European U23 Championships and achieved third place in both the 2019 European U23 Championships and the 2019 European U21 Championships.
In the 2021 World Judo Championships, Lanir showcased her skills by winning her first two matches. She eventually finished in 7th place after being defeated in the quarterfinal and the repechage rounds. Additionally, in the same year, she earned bronze medals at the 2021 Tashkent Grand Slam and the 2021 Tbilisi Grand Slam.
Representing Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics in the women's 78 kg weight category, Lanir made an impressive start by defeating Mongolian competitor Otgony Mönkhtsetseg with an 18-second ippon. However, her journey in the individual competition came to an end in the round of 16 when she was defeated by former two-time world champion Mayra Aguiar from Brazil.
In 2022, Lanir continued to make her mark in the judo world. She claimed a bronze medal at the Judo Grand Prix Almada held in Almada, Portugal. Additionally, she secured three silver medals at the Grand Slam Ulaanbaatar, Grand Slam Budapest, and Grand Prix Zagreb.
Rhythmic Gymnastics Team
While Israel's national soccer team will undoubtedly capture the spotlight in Paris due to their remarkable qualification for the Summer Games, it is important to recognize the significant achievements of the second team in the delegation, led by Ayelet Zussman. The gymnastics team, until last year, had not secured any medals in the all-around category at the World Championships.
This category represents the pinnacle of Olympic gymnastics, encompassing all exercises and ultimately awarding only one medal. However, the girls proved their mettle by not only winning a silver medal but also securing their place in the Olympic Games well in advance, almost two years before the games even commenced. Their accomplishment is truly commendable and deserves recognition alongside the achievements of the soccer team.
For Ofir Shaham, Diana Svertsov, Adar Friedmann, Romi Paritzki and Shani Bakanov, silver simply did not do, which is why they swept the gold in Valencia. Now they want it on the biggest stage there is. The one with the 5 rings.