Going for the Gold: IDF Soldiers in the London Olympic Games

Six IDF soldiers took a special vacation this week in order to fly to the Olympic Games in London — and not as mere spectators. They’re competing in the games as part of the Israeli Olympic Delegation, in swimming, Judo and rhythmic gymnastics.

IDF soldier swimming. Picture: Roni Aviv

IDF soldier swimming. Picture: Roni Aviv

Corporal Yakov-Yan Toumarkin, Swimming:

  • Position: 20 years old, serves in the Air Force
  • Personal record: LEN European Aquatics Championships gold medal winner in 100m backstroke, FINA World Aquatics Championships silver medal winner in 100m and 200m backstroke.
  • Olympic hope: “There is a huge excitement. I feel like I’m standing a few floors above the top of the world. On the day I qualified to participate in the 2012 Olympic games I felt very relieved, because at the end of the day, this was my goal.”
  • Goal: “I aim for the semi-finals. I might still find myself in the finals if I accidentally get there, but anyway, there’s always the next Olympic games.”

Sergeant Gal Nevo, Swimming:

  • In the IDF: 25 years old, serves in a computer service unit
  • Personal record: Israel Swimming Championship gold medal winner in 200m and 400m individual medley and 200m butterfly. 2010 FINA World Aquatics Championships bronze medal winner in 400m individual medley.
  • Olympic hope: “This is a dream that came true for the second time of my life, after I participated in the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. This time it’s more stressful. I arrived at the previous Olympic games almost accidentally, and so I could only surprise people in a positive way. This time, it’s harder to only aim for the experience, because the public expectation is higher, and I also expect more of myself.”
  • Goal: “To participate in two finals. No other Israeli swimmer has ever done that, and it’s a high bar to aim for.”
Gavl Nevo and Yakov-Yan Toumarkin swimming. Picture: Roni Aviv

Gavl Nevo and Yakov-Yan Toumarkin swimming. Picture: Roni Aviv

Sergeant Golan Pollack, Judo (under 66 kg):

  • In the IDF: 23 years old, serves as a general worker
  • Personal record: Ranked as number 22 in the world. Israel Judo Championship gold medal winner, and a Maccabiah Games gold medal winner.
  • Olympic hope: “Two weeks ago, the Olympic Commitee of Israel took all the participating athletes on a team-building trip to the Dead Sea. Suddenly I was shocked that I was a part of this big thing. I’ve always dreamt of getting here, and now I’m very proud to know that I’ve succeeded. Also, Ariel Ze’evi already gave me some tips for the games.”
  • Goal: “I aim to pass the first row of games, because at the end of the day I’m still young. This is my first time in the Olympic games, and there are people there who have already been world champions. On the other hand, because Judo is a sport in which Israel has already won medals, there’s a feeling that there’s a better chance to succeed.”

Sergeant Artiom Arshansky, Judo (under 60 kg):

  • In the IDF: 21 years old, serves as a general worker
  • Personal record: Ranked as number 25 in the world. Achieved second place in world championship of 17 years old and younger.
  • Olympic hope: “They only let me know that I can participate in the Olympic games a month ago. I met the international qualifications to participate in the games, but not the Israeli qualifications, which are a little bit tougher. Eventually I got permission to participate, and from that moment the huge excitement began. Even though I always believed that I would get there, being in London this year is not something that I’m taking for granted.”
  • Goal: “To pass the first round of games. After that, we’ll see.”
Golan Pollack and Artiom Arshansky. Picture: Lior Efron

Golan Pollack and Artiom Arshansky. Picture: Lior Efron

Corporal Moran Buzovsky, Rhythmic Gymnastics:

  • In the IDF: 20 years old, serves as a general worker
  • Personal record: World championship bronze medal winner in rhythmic gymnastics with balls and hoops.
  • Olympic hope: “I don’t think there is anyone who is participating in the Olympic games who isn’t excited. It’s a great honor to be a part of the team and to represent Israel for the first time, and this feeling only gets stronger when I know that I’m doing it as a soldier. Apart from being excited, I’m also under a lot of stress, because the team has a lot of responsibility and I want us to do the best we can.”
  • Goal: “We have to reach the finals, and from there get as far as we can”.
Moran Buzovsky. Picture: Ynet

Moran Buzovsky. Picture: Ynet

Corporal Neta Rivkin, Rhythmic Gymnastics:

  • In the IDF: 21 years old, serves as a general worker
  • Personal record: 14th place in the Beijing Olympic Games, 2011 world championship bronze medal winner.
  • Olympic hope: “It’s the second time at the Olympic games for me. I’m under a lot of stress, but this time I know how to cope better with it. The expectations from me are higher, but I also feel more confident because of the experience that I have.”
  • Goal: “My goal is to reach the finals, but at the end of the day, the most important thing to me is to know that I gave a 100 percent of myself — that I used my maximum ability.”
Neta Rivkin. Credit: Tipo Zone

Neta Rivkin. Credit: Tipo Zone

Source: Pazam

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