Israeli Olympian Will Compete

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Despite the unexpected death of his father, Olympic swimmer Alon Mandel will remain in Beijing and compete in the games, the Olympic Committee of Israel announced.

The 20-year-old swimmer's father, Costa Mandel, 51, died Wednesday when he fell from a ladder in the back yard of his home in Netanya.

"I intend to continue to compete for my father," the swimmer said, after the Israeli flag-raising ceremony at the Olympic Village.

"People think that I need to return home, but there are another two girls and a boy [at home in Netanya]," he said. 

"I will support my family when I return," Mandel said.

"My mother repeatedly stressed my father's wish for me to continue to complete and fulfill the dream. My mother and father were ideal parents. I owe it to them that I'm here. I would have really liked to have come home, but the heart's wish is to stay," he said.

Israeli Olympic Committee head Gil Lustig said he admired Mandel's decision to stay.

"He decided to do everything to fulfill the dream of his father, who was with him throughout his career and attended every competition," he said.

"Alon believes that the best way of honoring his father's memory is to stay and do his best. Such an awful tragedy can either lead to the collapse of competitiveness or a renewed strength and determination to exceed expectations," Lustig said.

Mandel will compete in the 200-meter butterfly competition, which begins Monday. One of his sisters will fly to Beijing Thursday to support her brother.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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