Lenny Krazelburg Checks In From Israel
Krayzelburg, three-time Olympic gold medalist in Sydney, checked in
with the media during a conference call as he was participating in the
Maccabiah Games in Israel. Krayzelburg discussed his experiences at
the games; his experiences in touring Israel; as well as his plans for
the rest of the year.
Well, Iím almost done with the games here. Iíve got one more day, tomorrow
night I have the relay, but so far it has been a very interesting experience
out here. Iíve had a really good time. The most exciting thing so far
Iíve done, I got a chance to carry the United States flag at the opening
ceremony, I was the flag bearer. So, that was an exciting thing for
me. I was really honored to have that opportunity.
On tension and violence and how it has affected his focus:
Well, we do pay some attention, obviously, reading it in the paper all
the time, watching the news, people talk about it. But, when you look
at the Israeli people and the way they just go about their life every
single day, not even thinking about it, you kind of get into that lifestyle
as well and you just go about your everyday business. I donít think
it has really affected my preparation or my swimming out here at all.
But, you are trying to be careful with where you go and what you do
and for the most part I have tried to be in the hotel and not going
anywhere without people that know whatís going on here with the locals.
On the failed bombing attempt near opening ceremonies:
I wasnít aware that the bombing occurred during the opening ceremony,
and one of the reasons I probably wasnít aware was because security
was absolutely amazing. Iíll tell you, they had a thousand person army
there surrounding the stadium and probably a few miles around the stadium.
And the only access that spectators could get to it [the stadium] was
to park their cars about three miles away and take buses to the stadium.
So I wasnít really worried about that because you could see that the
security was amazing.
On his shoulder injury:
And regarding my shoulder, itís the same as it was when I left. Itís
not better and itís not worse. The doctor told me it wasnít going to
be any worse. But, I donít have a specific reason or timeframe when
I hurt the shoulder. It started to bother me after the Vancouver meet,
sometime in the end of May. And unfortunately, I only got a chance to
really figure out what was happening probably three days before I left
for Israel. I have a torn super labrum in my left shoulder and I have
to have arthroscopic surgery, which will be on the 31st of this month,
On rehab and when he figures to get back in the water:
Well, the doctor said that itís going to take about 6-12 weeks. I mean
that was really was a big kind of estimation. He doesnít think it will
probably take that long. It depends how well I feel. The first three
weeks I will be in a sling, so I wonít be able to do a whole lot of
things, but after three weeks I can start working on getting my flexibility
back and some strength back into the shoulder. So, by then I will be
kicking in the water and, hoping if that wonít really bother me, I can
start swimming at least a couple of thousand within six to eight weeks.
And I already talked to my conditioning coach and weíll be doing some
dry land training when I get out of surgery.
On his experiences on this trip to Israel:
Well, Iíll tell you, Israel is really a beautiful country. Iíve never
really imagined, how nice this country is, but being in the Mediterranean
Sea there are a lot of coastal towns here. Itís really beautiful. And
what amazes me the most is half of it is, right now, is desert. So,
there is so much else here to build and I canít see and, I mean, I canít
even imagine how much bigger this country could be in 10, 15, 20 years
from now. But, the only sad part is that this conflict thatís going
on with the Palestinians at all times and you never know whether there
ever is going to be an end to that and that kind of stalls a lot of
the expansion and people coming to this country and moving to this country.
And I think that also takes away from the beauty of this country because
it truly is an amazing place.
On Israeliís rallying around the Maccabiah Games:
Yeah, I do think that the Israeliís have rallied around it. Everyone
is talking about it on the radio and TV and a lot of Israeliís have
come up to me and expressed their gratitude for me being here and showing
their support, you know coming to a country in such a hard time for
them. And they donít keep it a secret that itís a hard time for them
and itís a lot of concern for them at this time. But like I mentioned
before, on the other hand, they go about their daily business and their
daily lives. And you kind of, well you have to, I mean, you canít worry
about it all the time you have to live your life as well and most of
the stuff obviously happening around the West Bank and the territories
to the south and really far up north. But, with the suicide bombings,
that is the main concern that Iím going to have being in the country.
On this experience making him a more spiritual person:
I havenít felt any more spiritual than I did before, but I do think
I have a little bit more pride for being Jewish, because being here
really shows how much Jewish people here stick up for each other, and
fight for each other, and represent each other and feel about each other,
that really has stood out amazingly here. And with the people that live
here as well as the way they treat the tourists and like us, for example,
as a family. And that has been a very unique experience and I am very
proud of being part of this and part of being Jewish. On his parents
feelings on being over there:
[They call me] like three times a day. I talk to them about three times
a day. Yeah, my dad sometimes calls me every hour. Well, heís gotten
a little sick, my dad, so heís on absence, legal absence from work,
so heís bored at home so thatís why he calls me every hour. But, yeah,
they obviously, my mom called me a few times during opening ceremonies
and afterwards just to make sure I got home safe because it was a long
drive from Jerusalem to Haifa. Itís about two and a half hours. But,
I guess it seems like theyíve settled in and are at peace with me being
here and excited for me.
On location of Haifa:
Thatís correct. Northwest. Yes.
Yes, actually yesterday, because I only swam on Sunday and then I donít
swim until Thursday, I had a few days. And yesterday they kind of arranged
a tour for me to go to Jerusalem and I went to the Wall there and I
got a chance to go to the Holocaust museum. They have a beautiful Holocaust
museum there; it was really a special place, an emotional place, there.
And I also got a chance to go to Knesset, their Parliament. Knesset,
I think thatís what they call it, and met a couple members of the Knesset
there. It was really nice. A lot of people know here who I am and pretty
much everyone, because Iíve been in the papers everyday here and thereís
also big advertising signs on the streets here, all around Israel with
my picture on it.
On being poster boy of the games:
Yeah pretty much, seriously. Theyíve used my picture as a poster person
for the games. Everyone asks me how does it feel to see your face every
other flag pole here. Well it [feels] different. I guess itís never
happened before, but I donít know. Itís hard seeing yourself all around
the city, but you donít think about it I guess. Itís a weird feeling,
On breaking record for Maccabiah games and what it means to him:
It was a record. I had a pretty good swim. I was actually very happy
with my swim, I didnít think I can go that fast because I havenít done
a whole lot of training in the past month. But, to be honest with you,
I did not really come here to swim fast or to prove myself here. I wanted
to enjoy Israel and learn about the culture and take part in this event
and thatís what Iíve done here. So, it doesnít have any really, really
special feeling for me, to be honest with you.
Clarifying on when he swam 100 back:
Yes well it was on Sunday, so that would bethe 15th. Then [I have] the
relay tomorrow [Thursday].
On the level of competition:
Unfortunately, the level of competition here is not very high, but like
I said again, I wasnít really, Iím not here to prove myself or try to
see how many people I can beat. Iím just really here to enjoy the whole
On the crowds:
Well, the pool here itís a decent pool, but it probably seats I donít
know, two-three hundred people. The day when I swam it was packed, like
a lot of people just came in and just were standing watching me swim.
But, in terms of crowds, it [the Maccabiah Games] doesnít necessarily
draw a lot of people. And I donít think thatís only for swimming.
On his timetable for return to elite level competition:
Well, I really wanted to, before my injury, I wanted to get ready for
the U.S. Open in December and try to swim a fast shave time and see
whether that would put me in the world rankings this year. But, unfortunately,
now I donít think I will be ready by then. I am hoping though, that
I can be ready to somewhere, somehow, swim a meet where I can qualify
for Short Course World Championships in Moscow, which will be in April.
I think that would be very special for me, going back to Russia and
swimming for the first time ever in Russia at a pretty big competition.
On plans to visit Ukraine after Maccabiah Games:
No, Iím leaving, well if everything goes well, Iíll leave on Friday
to Odessa for about nine days.
On who he will be visiting in Ukraine:
Right, well I have an uncle who still lives in Odessa, my momís brother
with his family. But, a lot of friends that Iíve kind of kept in touch
and I havenít seen in a long time and also my parentsí friends that
through the years Iíve become friends with as Iíve gotten older. But,
there are quite a few people that I can see. But also, it is a coastal
town, itís in the Black Sea, beautiful beaches, and itís good for me
to relax and get away a bit and take some time to myself for about a
On being a recognizable person in the Ukraine:
Well, within the people that are within the Jewish community there,
they would probably know Iím there. Yeah, within, the kind of Jewish
community, they would probably know Iím there and it might be a little
bit crazy. But, overall, I guess people knew me, but I donít think they,
right now, they would reallyÖI would be surprised if a lot of people
remember who I am there. Just because obviously, I wasnít around that
much because I still represent America now, so itís a little bit different
On the most interesting thing heís experienced outside of athletic
Well, definitely the tour of Jerusalem yesterday and going to the Holocaust
museum. It was truly an experience, very emotional. You know there was
one particular exhibit there that there are two, I canít even remember
the two individuals that have donated to build this memorial to a million
and a half Jewish kids that died in the Holocaust. It was two people
that were in concentration camps and their four year-old child was killed
and theyíre wealthy people that live in America and they donated, I
think they are from Chicago, and they donated the money to build that
memorial for all the, you know, kids that were killed during the Holocaust.
It was truly and amazing place and it was a very emotional place for
me because Iíve, over the years, taken an interest in the Holocaust
and read different books and stuff. I tell you, it goes to my heart.
On his life changing since Sydney Olympics:
Well, I wouldnít say that [my life has changed that] dramatically. It
was different for the first few months, but it has calmed down a little
bit. Although, when I travel here everyone really knows who I am and
when I did a couple of meets in Europe a lot of people recognized me.
And in fact, in America a lot of people still do recognize me, especially
if I go to sporting events, which really does surprise me. I did not
think they would remember an Olympian after eight, nine months, but
people do. Itís been great. Iíve really enjoyed everything that Iíve
had an opportunity to do, and obviously Iím hoping I can do it again
in three years.
On most important thing heís learned since heís been in Israel:
Well, like I mentioned, the unity of this country and the Jewish people,
here, at least. How they stick up for each other and have the love for
each other and represent each other, and obviously, especially during
these hard times here, they really care about each other, thatís whatís
been so amazing and thatís what really makes me proud of being a Jew.
Article originally located at USA