The Uniqueness of Israel
Israeli sporting triumphs
While Israel may not be best known for its sporting achievements there is actually a large amount of sporting activity in the county and a fair amount of success.
For instance at the 2015 European Games Israel brought home an impressive 12 medals. The medals came in a range of sports including judo, gymnastics and swimming. Swimming saw a gold medal in the men’s 60 meter freestyle as well as a bronze in the men’s 1500 meter freestyle. There were gold and silver medals in judo and silver and bronze medals in gymnastics.
To date Israel has won seven medals at the Olympic Games, in judo, canoeing and windsurfing. This of course may change at the 2016 Rio Games and there are currently high hopes for more medals, particularly in judo.
Basketball is another sport where Israel enjoys considerable success. Domestically the league is dominated by Hapoel Jerusalem, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv and they are considered some of the top teams in Europe. Maccabi Tel Aviv has won the European championships a total of six times, most recently in 2014, while Hapoel Jerusalem won the Eurocup in 2004.
Amongst Israelis, football is probably the most popular sport and the domestic league is always a hard fought competition. However, it is not just physical sports that Israelis enjoy; an Israeli grandmaster is the holder of the 2009 Chess World Cup. A little known fact about the small city of Be’er Sheva is that it is home to the largest number of chess grandmasters of any city in the world.
Unsurprisingly, considering the easy access to beaches in Israel, water sports in general are also hugely popular. In addition to the success of the swimming team, Israelis also enjoy sports such as parasailing, scuba diving, windsurfing, kite surfing and sailing. While on your gap year with Aardvark Israel you will have the option of joining the Sea Sports add-on. This will allow you to enjoy a number of these sports, make sure you stay in shape over your gap year and get to experience some truly special activities.
Those who choose the Sea Sports add on will meet with professionals from the world of sports including trainers, athletes, sports therapists and nutritionists. In addition to trying out the aforementioned sports you will also enjoy seminars and workshops on a range of subjects such as sports medicine and anatomy and nutrition.
Of course even if you don’t taking the Sea Sports add on you will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy sports such as football and basketball and also to enjoy the electric atmosphere at some of the domestic league games.
In short, while Israel is unlikely to win the Football World Cup any time in the foreseeable future, there is a rich culture of sport in the county and some truly notable successes. Hopefully during your time on Aardvark Israel you will be able to experience this first hand and see Israel’s sporting world in a fresh light.