While judo has been Israel's best Olympic sport, the mat hasn't been the country's most friendly Olympic venue. The open water is.
Judo accounts for three of the seven medals Israel has won at the Summer Olympics in 14 appearances, but the other four have all come on the open water. Israelis have medaled in canoeing, sailing and sailboarding events at the Olympics, with the latter event producing Israel's only medal at the 2008 Games. The man who won that medal, RS:X windsurfer Shahar Zubari, is back for another run, and the Eilat native will carry the country's flag at Friday's opening ceremony.
Zubari, who will turn 25 this fall, returns to the Olympics after winning gold medals at the European Championships in 2009 and 2010. He's one of seven Israelis scheduled to compete in sailing events in London—five of them returning Olympians—as he'll be joined by individual competitors in the women's RS:X and Laser Radial events and teams in both the men's and women's 470 Class dinghy competition.
Zubari is joined on the men's side by the 470 duo of Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela, a duo that has medaled internationally in the European Championships and won gold at the Perth International Regatta. Kliger will be making his third appearance at the Olympics, having competed in 2004 and 2008 with his former partner, Udi Gal.
The duo representing Israel in the women's 470 competition also includes a three-time Olympian in Vered Buskila. "Vardush" sailed in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008 with former partner Nike Kornecki, finishing fourth four years ago. Now 29, Buskila will look to better that finish in London, sailing along side new partner Gil Cohen.
Another returning Israeli athlete looking to break through after past disappointment is RS:X windsurfer Lee Korzits. Korzits won a gold medal at the 2003 Windsurfing World Championships (when the Mistral sailboard was the standard), but finished a disappointing 14th in Athens at the following year's Olympics. She then battled a series of injuries, which helped keep her off the team for 2008. Now 28, Korzits is back in the Olympics and a medal favorite, having won gold at the 2011 World Championships in Perth and the 2012 World Championships in Cadiz.
Returning laser radial sailor Nufar Edelman rounds out the Israeli sailing contingent. The 29-year-old native of Rosh HaNikra competed in the laser radial (a small single-person dinghy) at the 2008 Games in Beijing, finishing 16th. An international top-10 competitor in the past, she'll look to break through and medal at this summer's Olympics.
Click here to read more Olympic Profiles in the London Kvelling Series.