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The Magnificent Seven of 2009. Who is your choice for this year's 'Post' Israeli Sports Personality award?
Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem
Author: Last, Jeremy
Date: Dec 18, 2009
Start Page: 12
Section: Sports
Abstract (Document Summary)

Having first made his mark on the world of gymnastics by reaching the floor final at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Alex Shatilov moved up a gear in 2009. The 22-year- old's standout year got going in April when he became Israel's first ever medalist at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships, claiming a deserved bronze which he dedicated to "the people of Israel" as a Pessah present. It was all uphill from there as Shatilov won world championship bronze in October, at the tournament held at the London venue to be used for the next Olympic Games. Shatilov's combination of strength, agility and controlled power has made him a force to be reckoned with and one of Israel's top medal hopes for London 2012.

The quality of [Alice Shlesinger]'s raw talent has been clear for years, but her failure to get past the early stages at the 2008 Olympics put a question mark over the likelihood of her reaching the very top of her sport. However, this concern was scrapped in 2009. In April the 21-year-old claimed a bronze medal at the European Judo Championships for a second straight year before claiming bronze at the World Championships in Rotterdam four months later. Israel has a proud judo history - Yael Arad won Israel's first Olympic medal in the sport in 1992 while Arik Ze'evi won a bronze in 2004. Shlesinger has a lot to live up to, but her determination could well see her rise to the very top.

After returning to Maccabi Haifa in the summer of 2006 it took [Yaniv Katan] more than two years to get over the failure of his six month transfer to West Ham. The expectations had been high but Katan couldn't cope in the English Premier League and was shadow of his former self for the following two seasons. The appointment of new coach Elisha Levy, however, seemed to light a spark in Katan, who came back into himself in the 2008/09 season. As Haifa captain, the 28-year-old assumed responsibility and led Maccabi to the league title for the first time in three years. He was then instrumental in the Greens' qualification for the Champions League, although Levy's troops were unable to compete at the very highest level of club soccer even with Katan's inspiration. Despite the European failure, Katan has maintained his position at Haifa and the team is currently nine points clear at the top of the Israeli league having won 12 of its 13 games.

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