2012 London Olympics Offer American-Israeli Track and Field Star a Chance to Go for Gold - The Jewish Voice
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2012 London Olympics Offer American-Israeli Track and Field Star a Chance to Go for Gold

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American-Israeli Olympian Donald SanfordSome of the world’s greatest athletes are en-route to London this week to compete for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The nation of Israel will be sending 37 of them to participate in eight separate sporting competitions, representing the pinnacle of athletic achievement in the Jewish state, and hopefully, bring home the gold.  Among the three-dozen-plus one is the country’s adopted track and field star, Donald Sanford, who with hard work and some luck made the Olympic cut.

It was only this past March that Donald Sanford was finally given the IAAF’s approval to represent Israel after the exceptions committee ruled his recent achievements were at an extremely high level. Now just five months later, the 25 year old will get a chance to compete for his adopted country in the world’s biggest sporting event. Sanford failed to achieve the Olympic Committee of Israel’s criteria, but the 400-meter runner was added to Israel’s delegation to the London Olympics after finishing fourth in the final of the European Championships. Point-zero-nine seconds separated between the sprinter and a medal at the last European Championships, where he placed fourth in the 400-meter dash. His result caused the Israeli Olympic committee to add him to the delegation flying to London 2012.

Sanford was required to record an Olympic A standard time of 45.30s to clinch his place in the Olympics. However, a special committee headed by OCI president Zvi Varshaviak decided to accept the country’s Elite Sport Department’s recommendation that Sanford’s performance in Helsinki should be deemed as an extraordinary accomplishment and therefore he should be sent to London.

The Los Angeles native met Israeli basketball player Danielle Dekel while the two were at Central Arizona College before moving on to run for Arizona State. The two got married in 2008, two years later Sanford began his citizenship process, and in 2012 he represented Israel at the European Championship. At the contest, Sanford became the first Israeli since Olympic finalist Esther Roth-Shahamorov to reach the finals of a major international track and field competition, narrowly missing the bronze medal.

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