ISRAEL will be sending 30 athletes to the European Games in Minsk.
The games, which start today, will run until June 30 in the Belarus capital and will feature more than 4,000 athletes competing in 15 sports.
As well as medals, athletes will also be battling for a place at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Belarus’ ambassador in Israel, Vladimir Skvortsov, pointed out that many prominent Israelis were born in his country
“Belarus ‘gave’ Israel three presidents and three prime ministers,” he said.
“It is important to remember that in the history of our country, there was a time when Yiddish was one of the official languages and before the Second World War, Jewish people made up more than half of the population in several cities.”
Olympic Committee of Israel president Igal Carmi has high expectations for the Games.
“The athletes will see how a competition of this magnitude is organised and we are expecting to win three or four medals,” he said. “We are very excited.”
Veteran badminton player Misha Zilberman was thrilled to not only be a part of the Israeli delegation once again, but to lead it.
“I have been a part of two Olympic Games as well as the previous European Games and this is a huge honour,” he said.
Rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram said: “The conditions are that of a mini-Olympics, with an Olympic village and competing in what is the European Olympics.
“I’m excited because I did not take part in the European Championships this year, so this is very important to me.
“This is also a very different experience for me because there will be athletes around participating in many different sports. I’m ready to compete.”
Fellow gymnast Artem Dolgopyat will also be looking to score a medal in Minsk.
“Every competition is important and is a preparation for something,” he explained. “I participated in the Youth Olympic Games in 2014 and this will be similar. I want to stand on the podium.”
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