Raisman leads medal charge

PURE GOLD: Aly Raisman, centre, with fellow US gold winning gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Gabrielle Douglas and Jordyn Wieber

WHILE both took to the podiums in London this week to receive medals, 18-year-old Aly Raisman's Olympic star was rising as 36-year-old swimmer Jason Lezak's appeared to be setting.

Raisman helped Team USA take the women's team gold on Tuesday - the first Olympic gold medal for the US gymnastics squad since the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

And a tearful Raisman used Hava Nagila as the music for her floor exercise.

Raisman is trained by Mihai and Sylvia Brestyan, the Romanian couple who coached the Israeli national team in the early 1990s.

She is proud to be using the Jewish song "because there aren't too many Jewish elites out there," Raisman said last year, adding: "I like how the crowd can clap to it."

Raisman was going for an individual gold as the Jewish Telegraph went to press.

Lezak, a four-time gold medalist, helped the American men's swimming team qualify for the 4x100m freestyle swimming finals. The team won a silver medal - Lezak's eighth medal overall in four Olympics, although he did not compete in the final.

Israeli tennis stars Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich bowed out of the Games after going down in two tie-break sets against top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the quarter-finals of the men's doubles at Wimbledon.

The Israelis had knocked out defending champions Roger Federer and Stanislas Warwinka in a three-setter a day earlier.

Shahar Peer was eliminated by Russia's Maria Sharapova in the first round of the women's event.

The Israeli judo team was expected to do well after winning four medals in recent European matches, but judoka Alice Schlesinger was eliminated from competition early this week.

Former Olympic bronze medal winner Arik Ze'evi lost in just 43 seconds against Germany's Dmitri Peters in the first round of the 100kg competition.

Golan Pollack was beaten by Frenchman David Larose in the 66kg category early in the week.

Soso Palaloshvili lost in the second round in the 73kg category.

Israeli Misha Zilberman didn't get out the group stages in the badminton competition, while shooting hopeful Sergey Richter missed out on a place in the 10am Air Rifle final.

The Israeli marksman lost by just one point.

GOLDEN GIRL: Aly Raisman was the star of the first week of the Olympic Games in London. Her floor routine to Hava Nagila helped the American team win the gold medal in the artistic gymnastics. Raisman was also in action last night in the individual event as we went to press. She is seen above on the balance beam

In men's gymnastics, Israel's Alex Shatilov qualified for the finals of the floor exercise after finishing fourth overall. He also qualified for Wednesday's all-around individual final after finishing 12th overall.

Israeli gymnast Valeria Maksyuta saw her hopes dashed as she fell in the vault.

In swimming, Israeli Yakov Toumarkin finished sixth in his 100m backstroke, but his time of 54.91 seconds was not enough to earn him a place in the semi-finals.

Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or was another casualty. He placed 21st overall in the 200m freestyle heats, with a time of 1:48.60 minutes.

USA fencer Tim Morehouse bowed out in the quarter-finals of the men's sabre.

In men's rowing, American David Banks of the US team finished first in the preliminaries and qualified for the finals.

Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan, of New Zealand, won gold in the Men's Double Sculls.

Israeli windsurfer Lee Korzits was primed for Israel's first Olympic medal as we went to press.

Lee, currently in the silver medal position with five races down, faces a tough task to overhaul Marina Alabau Neira. She is competing in the RS:X windsurfing division held at Weymouth, Dorset, where the sailing events are being being held.

Colleague Shahar Zubari was also still in contention. The 26-year-old was placed 10th after the first two races of the men's RS:X.

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