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Articles > Olympic Notebook, Part 2: Rami Zur: Red, White and Blue and White

He was born in the U.S., grew up in Israel, and has competed at the Olympics for both countries. This time around, Rami Zur is one of two Americans – and the only male – to have qualified for kayak competition, and will take part in the event to take place on August 19 and August 23.

Rami was born in California, but adopted by an Israeli couple living in a kibbutz on the Kinneret, where he was introduced to kayaking at a very young age. By the time he was 16, Rami was the the Israeli National Champion for his age group. Two years later, he medaled in World Cup competition.

Following mandatory service in the IDF, Rami resumed his training, earning a spot on the Israeli Olympic Team at the 2000 Games in Sydney, where he and partner Roey Yellin advanced to the semifinals in both races, finishing eighth in their K2 500-meter (1:34.241) heat, and seventh in their K2 1000-meter (3:22.634) heat; they officially placed 15th in both events. His biggest thrill of the time was having his father in the stands. “My family has a huge part in my succes,” he noted, “and being able to share that with them was the best feeling I’ve ever had.”

Two years later, Rami moved to the U.S., where his dual citizenship enabled him to come on board with USA Canoe/Kayak. This decision paid off in 2002, when Rami represented the United States at the International Kayaking Regatta and won the gold medal in the K1 500-meter, the first gold medal at the regatta to be captured by a U.S. competitor in ten years. At the 2003 World Championships, he finished fourth in the K1 500-meter, missing the bronze by .650 seconds. In 2004 Zur took first place in U.S. Olympic Trials, advancing to the semi-finals in Athens in both the K-1,500m and K-2,500m events. In the K-1,500m semi-final he fourth (1:40.727). His time was the tenth best overall, however only the top nine qualify for the final.

After Athens, Zur sustained a serious spinal injury after hitting his head in a swimming pool, and began a strenuous regimen of rehabilitation. Returning to competition, some disappointing results led him to question his future in the sport. In 2007, however, he won the U.S. Team Trials in the K-1 1500m and placed third in World Cup competition.

Rami has agreed to make himself available for an interview with the Center for Sport and Jewish Life following the Beijing Olympics. In the meantime, you can follow Rami’s time with the Olympic team in Beijing by checking out his blog .

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