Jewish-American pole vaulter heads for second Olympics — this time for Israel

Jillian Schwartz says a special connection — and a little less competition — helped her join team Israel after previously competing for the USA   There’s a special connection,” Jillian Schwartz said as she explained her decision to stop competing for team USA and switch to team Israel.

On Sunday, Israel’s entire Olympic team gathered for a two-day retreat. At the lunch table, Jillian spoke about her move to Israel, her Jewish childhood and what she expected to achieve at London 2012.In 2009, Schwartz came to Israel with the rest of the US Maccabiah team.

The pole-vaulter, who had been part of the US’s delegation to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, decided to stay and compete for the Jewish state.“It’s about the connection, the people and the culture,” Schwartz said. “I think being brought up Jewishly had a lot to do with it. It, of course, is the move, leaving one of the best athletic teams in the world — after being an Olympian with it — and moving to Israel, where athletics aren’t nearly as popular.

Schwartz also said there was a second reason. While she believes she could have made the cut for team USA, she knows that the fact that the Israelis team is less glamorous and prestigious has some benefits for her. “I don’t have to compete quite as often as I did before, which for me — being a little bit older — is definitely a good thing,” said the 32-year-old.

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Jillian Schwartz
Jillian Schwartz

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