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Krayzelburg May Pass Up World Championships

By Phillip Whitten, Friday December 2000 15 1:43 AM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. triple Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg (news - web sites) said he would rather compete in the Maccabiah Games in Israel next July than swim at the World Championships in Japan.

The Maccabiah Games, often called the ``Jewish Olympics,'' is one of the world's oldest multi-sport festivals, staged every four years in Israel.

``I have never been to Israel and I really would like to go there and compete in the Maccabiah Games next year,'' Krayzelburg told Reuters.

Born in Odessa to Jewish parents, Krayzelburg left the Soviet Union with his family in 1989 at the age of 13, in part to escape anti-Semitism.

They settled in Los Angeles and Krayzelburg became a U.S. citizen in 1994 and soon thereafter one of his adopted nation's top competitive swimmers.

The 25 year-old superstar said he might rethink his decision to skip the worlds if there was an escalation in the violence in the Middle East between now and next July. But he said the games in Israel were his first choice.

``It is a very important part of my heritage,'' said Krayzelburg, who won gold in Sydney in the 100 and 200 backstroke, both in Olympic record time, and led off the U.S. world record-setting 4x100 medley relay team.

Three other Jewish American Olympic swimming (news - web sites) medalists -- Anthony Ervin, who tied for gold in the 50 freestyle, and relay silver medalists Jason Lezak and Scott Goldblatt -- indicated they too were considering the Maccabiah Games.

But the trio said they would likely head for the World Championships if they qualified for the U.S. team.

``Lenny has already experienced worlds and I have not,'' said Lezak, who swam in the 4x100 freestyle relay at Sydney.

``I think if I keep up my training I have a good shot at an individual medal there. Nothing is for sure, but this is the way I am leaning.''

Goldblatt echoed those feelings.

``I definitely would like to swim in the Maccabiah Games,'' he said. ``But right now, if I can make the team, my first priority would be the World Championships.''

Article originally located at Yahoo! News

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