Aleksandr Averbukh
Aleksandr Averbukh was born in 1974 in Irkutsk and moved to Israel in 1999. Averbukh won silver and bronze medals for pole vault at the IAAF World Championships and two gold medals at the European Athletics Championships in 2002 and 2006. He also competed in pole vault in the 19th Maccabiah games, winning first place. His personal best is 5.93 meters. “I don't think there was ever a chance I'd go into any other discipline,” Averbukh told Chanel 1 in a televised interview.
Boris Gelfand
Born in Minsk, Belarus, in 1968, Boris Gelfand first appeared on international chess players’ rating lists at the age of 19, when he became European Junior Champion. Having won top places in a score of Soviet and international competitions, he ensured his place in the world’s top 20 chess masters and was rated third in the world in 1992. He made aliyah in 1998. After winning the Chess World Cup in 2009 and the following Championship Candidates Tournament, Gelfand in 2012 faced the then-reigning World Chess champion Viswanathan Anand. Gelfand tied with Anand in 12 games but lost the rapid-game playoff. He remains the leading Israeli chess player to this day.
Leonid Kaufman
Leonid Kaufman served as the head coach of Israel’s national swimming team from 2007 until 2016, and during most of the 1990’s. Born in the USSR in 1959, he came to Israel in 1991. Israeli swimming made countless breakthroughs under his guidance and Israel’s medley relay team reached the finals at the Olympics for the first time in Atlanta in 1996. Kaufman also guided Israel’s next Olympic finalist, Yakov Toumarkin, who finished seventh in the 200-meter in London in 2012, to the best-ever finish for an Israeli swimmer at the Olympics. Israel’s swimmers also reached finals at the World Championships for the first time during his tenure and won medals at numerous European Championships.
Michael Kolganov
The Israeli sprint canoeist, Michael Kolganov, took up the sport at 14 years of age. Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1974, Kolganov immigrated to Israel in 1996 and later served in the IDF. He won two gold medals (200 meters and 500 meters) at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in 1998. Kolganov also competed in three summer Olympics, including in Sydney in 2000, where he won a bronze medal for the 500-meter race. He was the flag bearer for Israel in the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony in 2008.
Neta Rivkin
One of Israel's most successful rhythmic gymnasts, Neta Rivkin was born in Petah Tikva in 1991, the same year her parents made aliyah from St. Petersburg. She has been a gymnast since she was six and in 2008, became the youngest member of the Israeli Olympic delegation at the Summer Games in Beijing. In 2011, Rivkin won the silver medal at the European Championship and a bronze at the World Championship. In 2014, she won two silver medals at the Grand Prix final and in 2015, took bronze at the European Games. She was the flag bearer of Israel at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.
Alexander "Alex" Shatilov
Alexander (Alex) Shatilov was born in 1987 in Tashkent and moved to Israel in 2002 at the age of 15. He has competed and won many awards over the years. Shatilov placed seventh at the 2006 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and became the first Israeli gymnast in a world apparatus final. He placed fifth on floor exercises at the 2007 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. He also won a gold medal in the Glasgow World Cup in 2008. Shatilov represented Israel at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2012, he tied for fourth on the floor and placed 12th overall.
Gocha Tsitsiashvili
Gocha Tsitsiashvili was born in 1973 in Tbilisi before immigrating to Israel in 1994. Tsitsiashvili, who started his wrestling career in the Soviet Union, is considered one of the world’s top Greco-Roman wrestlers of his decade. In Israel, he was also a member of the Hapoel Be'er Sheva soccer club. Tsitsiashvili won a gold medal in 2003 at the World Wrestling Championship and represented Israel in three Olympics –1996, 2000 and 2004. Tsitsiashvili announced his retirement shortly after the 2004 games.
Ira Vigdorchik
Ira Vigdorchik was born in 1964 in Moscow and immigrated to Israel in 1979. Vigdorchik served as the head coach of Israel’s rhythmic gymnastics national team from 2008 to 2016 and again in 2017. Vigdorchik guided the national team to sixth place in the group all-around final in the 2016 Rio Olympics, tying the blue-and-white’s best-ever finish in Beijing in 2008, a team also coached by Vigdorchik. Under Vigdorchik, Gaya Giladi placed sixth in the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2016. Vigdorchik's team also won a silver medal in the World Gymnastics Championships in 2014 and three medals in the 2016 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships, including one gold.