Shut out from the medals podium at the Summer Olympics in London three years ago, Israeli athletes returned home from their latest international sporting competition with better results last week.
Israeli competitors won a dozen medals — two gold, four silver and six bronze — at the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. Several Israelis set national records in their events, and qualified for next year’s Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Our greatest success was that we showed we have depth,” Gili Lustig, secretary-general of Israel’s Olympic Committee, told The Jerusalem Post.
The 140-member Israeli delegation — the largest ever sent by the country to a sporting event — were among some 6,000 athletes from 50 nations.
Israel’s gold medal winners were Ziv Kalontarov, in the men’s 50-meter freestyle swimming race, and Sagi Muki in judo. Other Israeli medals came in wrestling, shooting, and rhythmic gymnastics and judo (or Sasson, silver), center.
Israel, which is located in Asia, qualified for the European competition since its exclusion three decades ago from the established Asian Games.
In the early 1990s Israel was admitted into European sports organizations, and became full member of European Olympic Committees in 1994. Israel has participated in the biannual European Youth Olympic Festival since 1995 and the European Games since 2015.