Several boys and girls gave their notebooks to an Israeli athlete for signature, with great admiration in their eyes.
The scene, which took place Tuesday afternoon at Israeli President Shimon Peres's official residence in Jerusalem, is an indication of Israeli people's growing enthusiasm and expectation for the Beijing Olympics in August.
During the welcoming ceremony at Peres's official residence, the president, who is scheduled to attend the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, expressed his hope that Israeli delegation will give good performance in the upcoming international sports event.
"I am proud of you. I hope that every member of the delegation will do his or her utmost and get good result," said Peres in an address to Israeli delegation, adding that the clothes the delegation members will wear during the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony -- blue-striped white T-shirts and white trousers -- look extremely fabulous.
Efraim Zinger, secretary general of the Olympic Committee of Israel, told Xinhua smilingly that Israeli delegation is getting prepared for the Beijing Olympics.
"We are looking forward to the Games, and hope that Israeli athletes can get good results," said Zinger.
However, Zinger noted that due to the fierce competition, the goal of Israeli delegation remains the same: trying to claim one or two medals in the Beijing Olympics.
Israeli delegation is likely to win medals in several fields, including judo, sailing and tennis, the secretary general added.
Gilad Lustig, director of Israel's Elite Sport Department, a body set up in 1984 to oversee the selection of athletes for the Olympics, said that "I hope we claim between one or two medals and reach between six and eight finals."
Like Zinger, Michael Kolganov, who will be the Israeli flag bearer at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, told Xinhua that he is prepared for the Games.
The 33-year-old, who made aliya from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1995, will be competing in his third Olympics and is one of only five Israeli athletes to win an Olympic medal, after claiming the bronze medal of the men's 500 meters K1 at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
"I am prepared and will try my best," Kolganov said, hoping that Israeli delegation will do a good job in the Beijing Olympics, though playing down the expectation that he himself will claim a medal.
(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2008)