WOC 2008 – the Israeli team – part 1   Leave a comment

Israel will be represented at WOC 2008 by two athletes – Pavel Gvozdev and Alexey Marchenko. While both come from a similar background, immigrating to Israel as youths from the former Soviet Union with previous orienteering experience, they have taken separate paths since then.

Pavel (age 24) came to Israel from Russia at the age of 18, without his family, and immediately dominated the local youth category. However, his ability declined during the years of compulsory army duty, and after that he returned to Russia to study and train (including a spell with OK Orion), appearing again in much better form at WOC 2006, where he was noted for the unprecedented feat of missing qualification for all three finals by one place. In WOC 2007 he improved, qualifying for both the long distance final (where he finished 21st) and the sprint. He is the only Israeli ever to qualify for a WOC final, and we hope he can do so again this year. His main strength is his running ability, and he tends to make large orienteering mistakes, especially at the beginning of a race.

Alexey (age 23) came from Ukraine at the age of 17, with his family, and was good enough to make the Israeli national team and participate in WOC 2003. He has stayed in Israel, training locally but not improving enough to reach Pavel's level, and since participating in WOC 2004 and 2006 as well. He was prevented from returning to his native land for WOC 2007 by a knee injury, but has fully recovered and started training and running for an athletic club, so he is at his best running ability today. Alexey has an outside chance for a WOC final (he was closest in 2004 with 16th place).

The advantages of living and training in a country with a much higher level of orienteering are evident in the progress Pavel has made, relative to Alexey, who was better than him when they were juniors. However, for most Israelis this is not an option, and we need to find ways to improve our level locally.

My prediction: two finals between them, though I hope for more.

Posted 09/07/2008 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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