Another Israeli 4x400m record gives lustre to relays project
|Donald Sanford, a member of the Israeli 4x400m
relay team, in action in Tel Aviv. (Photo by Tali
A squad of Dustin Emrani, Donald Sanford, Ruben Majola, Yuriy Shapsai clocked 3:08.78 at the European Athletics Outdoor Premium Meeting, the 12th European Athletics Festival, in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz on Sunday.
The time improved by nearly a second the mark of 3:09.75 set by the same quartet just a week before on home soil in Tel Aviv.
The head coach of the project, Meni Peled, said before Sunday's race: "The guys can run a second faster in the very near future. The result (in Tel Aviv) was good, but not great. We did the first step and it was an important one. I hope the training camp in Poland will help us make a significant improvement."
It proved to be a prophetic statement.
Two of the keys to be the team's big steps forward have been the arrival on the local athletics scene of Sanford and Majola.
The pair can boast of personal bests of 45.21 and 46.37 respectively and hail originally from the United States and South Africa; but they both married Israeli women and became eligible to compete for their adopted country in the middle of last year.
Israel has never sent a 4x400m team to the European Athletics Championships before and realistically a medal in the event looks to be out of Israel's grasp on this occasion - they will need to be running under 3:06.50 to have a chance of making the final - but the long term stimulus to local sprinters from the project could be profound.
The project includes the 4x100m relay teams as well and the men's squad is also on the verge of booking its ticket to Helsinki to be part of what could be Israel's biggest delegation to go to a European Athletics Championships.
The squad was further enhanced last week when Israel's 3000m steeplechase record holder Itay Magidi clocked 8:34.03 at a meeting in Belgium, his fastest time since 2008.
The 2012 European Athletics Championships will be held in Helsinki, Finland, between 27 June – 1 July.