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Israel sport by:

Shaar Peer
Shaar Peer

Israeli sports have not made much of a progress in the last Jewish year. Some may even say that there has been somewhat of a decline in the field, especially in comparison to countries such as Greece. On the other hand, we did witness the occasional minor successes. We collected the moments and people who "made" this year. You are welcomed to add yours in the talkback section. Shana Tova!

Bnei Sakhnin Beitar Jerusalem

January the 8th will be remembered as one of the gloomiest day in Israeli soccer. This was the day that Sakhnin, representing the Arab sector in Israel, met Beitar, the team that presumes to carry the country's flag, for an explosive match in the Doha stadium.

After the game ended, the police foolishly decided to leave Beitar's fans in the stadium in a bid to protect them from the hosting team's fans, in hope that the latter would soon go home. This was a fatal mistake: A violent brawl soon erupted between the fans, with reporters and players getting hurt in the process.

Worse than the physical injuries and damage, the violent clash delivered a blow to our faith in coexistence, or in the law's ability to rein in hooliganism. Again, we made a mistake (Oded Shalev).

Shay Doron wins NCAA title

A majority of the 19,334 people that came to the TD Garden in Boston in March did not know that they were watching history in the making. Maryland won its first title in the women's basketball NCAA tournament, but for us Israelis the night belonged to the cheerful 20- year-old player Shay Doron.

Doron, who scored 16 points and was named the game's MVP by ESPN, registered one of Israel's greatest achievements abroad. (Raanan Weiss)

Shaar Peer
Normally, being an Israeli abroad isn't a very pleasant experience. But last June, it sure was fun.

On a summery day in Paris at the beginning of the month, tennis player Shaar Peer completed a great victory in the Roland Gaross Grand Slam tournament over the Russian Elena Dementieva, ranked 6 in the world. The 3,800 spectators in the field stood up and cheered for the underdog player.

Peer will probably remember this as one of the greatest triumphs of her career, but me and the several other Israelis who were there will remember this as a rare occasion of national pride. The crowd, who at the outset of the game was rooting for the Russian player, gradually switched sides and ended up applauding the 19 year-old Israeli who displayed a moving battle.

The international newspapers courted Peer, and from that day on it became clear that the Israeli superstar has won her reputation in the global arena. She also proved that we have another world-class star. (Miki Sagui)

Alex Averbuch

Four years after his career record winning the gold medal in the European Championships in Munich, pole vaulter Alex Averbuch arrived at the same tournament in 2006 in Gothenburg with hardly any expectations at all. However, the Israeli athlete managed to shine at the right minute, and claim his third gold medal at the championship after recording a jump of 5.7 meters.

Most importantly, Averbuch's victory succeeded in bringing a ray of light to the lives of Israelis in the midst of a bloody war in the north that left 150 civilians and soldiers dead.

Zvika Sherf

In the beginning, it looked good. The draw seemed fair enough, and after Zvika Sherf's guys showed what they are capable of at the European Championship, no one imagined the qualifications would turn into a nightmare.
Then the series of injuries began. Shelef, Burstein, Tapiro and Lior Eliyahu were injured and shattered Zvika's rotation.

Erez Katz made it to the first five, Yotam Halperin was again incapable of playing more than one and a half good games and showed no leadership, and once again Israel fell into the last-chance matches.

Everyone blames Zvika, forgetting how he took a crushed team and led it to its records last summer. It is true he has something to do with the failure, but there is a long way from that to "peeling his skin" on live TV.

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