Barnabas Stolz, an Israeli skier in the Men's Alpine Combined event
Israel sent six Olympians to the Beijing Winter Olympics this year. The expectations for these Olympians were low as Israel has never medalled at the Winter Olympics and that was not expected to change this year.
Barnabas Szollos, a skier in the men’s alpine combined placed sixth at this year's games. This finish is the best ever by an Israeli in skiing and is something that should be celebrated.
After the event, Szollos said “To place sixth feels amazing and I’m really happy… it’s an honor to be here, to represent Israel, and I’m really, really happy.” His emotion is reflective of the historic nature of his success; Szollos made history for Israel in a sport that few Israelis have ever competed in.
Not only is Szollos’ finish the best finish for an Israeli in skiing, but it also ties the best finish for an Israeli in any sport at the Olympics. In 2002, Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski also finished sixth in ice dancing. Szollos’ younger sister Noa also competed in skiing, however, she was not as successful.
Israeli speed skater Vladislav Bykanov came in seventeenth place for the 1500m while in figure skating, Alexei Bychenko came in twenty-sixth place. Hailey Kops and Evgeni Kransopolski finished in 15th place.
While the six competitors varied in where they finished, there is much to celebrate about Israel and future Olympic games. Barnabas Szollos’s success can inspire young Israelis and also, with Barnabas being just 23 years old, his potential to medal at future games is exciting.
Photo Credit - The Times of Israel