Kayaking for gold on the Kinneret

Published in Jerusalem Post, Metro Cover Story, March 27, 2015

At first, the Swiss national champion in kayaking, Fabio Wyss, wasn’t sure if Israel would be a desirable place to train for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He had received the offer from Ilya Podpolnyy, Israel’s hopeful for an Olympic medal, after the two became friends at a competition in Italy. At the time, Operation Protective Edge was raging on. But as the harsh European winter set in, the drive for an Olympic gold eventually made him choose Israel over South Africa.

“We wanted to go somewhere for a longer time, because we usually do training camps for two to three weeks in the winter. This year is very important for the Olympic Games,” Wyss says in the lounge of the Jordan Valley Kayak Sprint Club on the shores of Lake Kinneret, right before their final Friday afternoon training of this five-week-long camp. With a slew of kayaks and paddles neatly shelved in this warehouse space, which also includes a gym, the club is well equipped for Olympic-level training.

“It’s the warmest place within [a] short distance,” Wyss continues. “Also, the standard of living is very close to the European standard – probably the same.”

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