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31 July 2008, 10:50 am
Get To Know Udi Gal
Gideon Kliger and Udi Gal
Gideon Kliger, left, and Udi Gal competing in the Athens Olympic Games

2008 Beijing Olympic Games

The Israel Men's 470 team of Gideon Kliger and Udi Gal have finished as bronze medallists at the last three World Championship - Rick van Wijngaarden speaks to crew Udi Gal to find out more about this rapidly improving team...
At A Glance

The Event

Event: Men's Two Person Dinghy
Equipment: 470
Racing Dates: 11-18 August
Medal Race: 18 August
Find out more about the event and the equipment here

The Sailors

Israel - Gideon KLIGER and Udi GAL

Ages: 28 and 29
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 5
Previous Olympic Games: 2004 (15th)
Best Results: 2008 Worlds - 3rd; 2007 Worlds - 3rd; 2006 Worlds - 3rd; 2006 Hyeres - 1st; 2005 Hyeres 1st
2008 Form: Worlds - 3rd; 470 Europeans - 4th; Hyeres - 26th; Palma - 2nd; Sail Melbourne - 33rd

1. If you can describe yourself in five words, what would those be?

Happy, optimistic, always smiling, perfectionist and sensitive.

2. What makes you choose the 470?

Since I can remember I'm a sailor. I have lived around the sea since my birth. I can't imagine my life without being on or in the water at least one time a week. I'm a very competitive person so it was natural for me to do races on the water. 470 is the best class and most common in Israel.

3. What was your best regatta ever and why?

The last three three years we've gathered three bronze medals during the World Championships. Each event was one of a kind. We were always up there in top ten but always finished at a medal spot on the last day. The Medal Race is a good thing for us. Very exciting and very stressful but good fun. We love the performance of all those regattas.

4. Why do you want to be the helm/ crew?

Until 17 years ago I was a helm and quite good too. But my body kept on growing and I became too tall to be in the back of the boat. Automatically I had to change to crewing. Gidi was the best competitor I came around in Israel. So he was my best option and the best person I could put my faith in.

5. What's sailing 470 like in your country?

Sailing in general, and especially the 470 class and windsurfing are very popular sports in Israel. This is because of the amount of medals the Israeli team sails together. We are pretty well-known in our country.

6. What is the hardest part of an Olympic campaign?

I think being a top Olympic athlete is all about mental preparation. Technically all the top teams and players are at the same level. So being that inch of a difference is the key to win or not to win. I like to play games but it is not always easy to be 100% all the time.

7. What is your best asset on sailing and why?

Like I said I was a pretty good helm in my younger years. I'm sure this helps in making the right choices on the water. I know what it is like in both positions. A 470 helm is not only the one who's steering the boat. As a crew you have lots of power as well. Sometimes that's under estimated. Also every time I'm in a race, I need to win it. That's when I'm at my best.

Rick van Wijngaarden (originally published in 470 eTimes May 2008)
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