This article was first published in The Times of Israel.
Danielle Goldstein has a Zionist dream, and she’s taking the reins to make it happen.
The world-class equestrian has already fulfilled a lifelong goal by becoming a citizen of Israel, where she’s determined to help assemble the country’s first Olympic show jumping team for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“One of the main reasons I became an Israeli was the opportunity for me to really represent Israel, to give Israel more of an international sports presence,” the US-born Goldstein recently told The Times of Israel.
Israel has just a handful of international-level riders, and only one is a native-born Israeli. All live in the United States or Europe because the requisite training conditions don’t exist at home.
Goldstein’s idea is to bring together at least three of these riders to practice, compete and qualify as a team for the Olympics. No equestrian athlete has ever represented Israel at the Games: Oded Shimoni qualified in dressage in 2004, but sat out the competition after not meeting more stringent standards set by Israel’s Olympic Committee.
“Being an Israeli rider will open up so many doors for me personally, but it will also give Israeli equestrian sports a boost,” said Goldstein, a Grand Prix rider and top finisher at contests including the Hampton Classic Fendi Cup.
Adi Leibovitz, the owner of the Jockey Club Ranch in Rishpon — the oldest, biggest horse farm in Israel — agrees about Goldstein‘s potential influence, comparing her to Yael Arad, whose bronze in judo at the 1992 Olympics ignited the sport’s popularity among Israeli youth.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.