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"I felt I was given the right and honor to represent the country" | Israel today


The unforgettable memories, the disappointments and the hallucinatory incident in the sauna • Aryeh Klintov-Nova, the first athlete to represent Israel in the Olympics in Helsinki in 1952 - celebrates 90 years in a special interview with "Israel Hayom"

In 1952, an Israeli delegation marched for the first time in the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

25 athletes in blue and white arrived in Helsinki, taking part in five different sports: swimming, athletics, shooting, basketball and diving.

Among the seven athletes, there was also the high jumper Aryeh Klinstov-Neva, who reached 1.70 meters in the qualifiers, when he was ranked 35th but did not advance to the next stage.

Today (Thursday), Aryeh Klinstov-Neva, the only surviving athlete from those Games, celebrates his 90th birthday.

In an interview with Israel Hayom, he recalled those days when he got on the plane to Finland, a branch of athletics that was in its infancy, and what his tip is for a beginner athlete.

"I got on the train for the Olympics at the very last moment," Klinshtov-Noveh recalled.

"So they maintained equality between Maccabi and Hapoel in the competitions. My score was high, when I was in college in physical education and had a year in activities, they knew I was in good shape and decided in the end to take me out."

Aryeh Klinstov-Neva.

an extraordinary story,

"When we arrived, they prepared clothes on the way, but they didn't bring me. In Denmark we received the shirts and in Sweden the suits, when they took another suit and adjusted it to my measurements."

"When you see the pictures now, you start to remember the experiences, but I was actually disappointed with the result, because before that in training I jumped 1.90 meters, and in the preliminaries I didn't do well - maybe because of the sauna. Instead of relaxing the muscles, the sauna froze us in place and I wasn't exactly able to recover. After the games - I came back and made a new Israeli record in a competition in southern Finland."

If you hadn't arrived at the last minute, maybe you would have determined a better result?

"Perhaps if they had been careful with the form of training, and not put us in the sauna, where I really couldn't lift myself up, the evidence is that after that I made a result of 1.85 meters. When I think about it, at the age of 16 we were three athletes alone on the way to Denmark for the Scandinavian Youth Championships. There I already did A first place result, when perhaps the same preparation would have helped me in the Olympic Games as well."

How was Israel's first delegation received?

"We didn't feel it, maybe the representatives did. As athletes we felt free to do as much as needed to be successful, when the local Jewry took care of us from shoe laces to everything we needed, including the food and what we needed for the competition. I had an experience meeting Jews that I had never known." 

Aryeh Klinstov-Neva.

An unforgettable incident in the sauna,

What was it like for you to represent Israel?

"I felt that I was given the right and honor to represent the country, especially in the closing parade, I was among the three who represented Israel. When I fell, it was my right to both participate in the Five Maccabees and light the torch, and for me it was even more exciting than the Olympics, because it was more popular, in front of people who know you."

It is said that in the first games they mainly traveled to be there and participate

"Of course I wanted to reach the finals, but I couldn't. In 52 I was 19 years old, which is still a child, in terms of individual sports."

Over the years did you keep in touch with the other members of the delegation?

"We used to meet for a considerable period of time every four years, at a meeting before going to each Olympics, when there were also articles here and there, when we brought up memories together and that today I open press pieces, the relationship then was more personal, with much more pride and today it is simply part of... ".

Do you follow any Olympic games?

"Yes of course, I follow, but much less. I saw all the achievements in the last Olympics, but I wanted to see more of the branch I represented."

Klinstov-Neve on the podium.

Celebrating 90, photo: private album

How do you see athletics in your time, compared to what is done today?

"The exposure back then was more personal and we gave more respect to the athletes. Even though I continued in physical education as a teacher, they saw that. Today everything is also more modern, I had to land on sand and when I was coming home, I couldn't turn on a faucet, today there are better facilities."

Do you think that enough respect is given to past athletes in the delegation?

"I don't think so, it's a fact that today they forgot to invite me to events, why?".

Do you have a message for a beginner athlete?

"Today you have to work harder, in order to achieve achievements. In my opinion, there is much more help and contribution from the state."

What can I wish you?

"We say - 'the main thing is that we meet and identify', the main thing is health."

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Source: israelhayom

All sports articles on 2023-01-26

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