Maya Arussi is the first Israeli to represent the country in the newly minted Olympic sport of taekwondo. The young contestant has qualified for the under-49 kilograms competition and did so in an unorthodox manner. The Israeli Olympic Committee would not support the unknown athlete in the recently non-Olympic sport, and Maya was forced to support herself through countless international tournaments. She stumbled into the sport on a visit to relatives in the United States and instantly fell in love with the acrobatic displays involved. Arussi feels strongly about promoting the sport: "I am proud to be the first and have a chance to contribute to taekwondo in Israel". She represents her club, Maccabi Amos Lod.
In 2000 Maya blossomed into a formidable presence in the international taekwondo circuit. The fly weight won the Belgian Open Championships and placed third in the Serbia and Montenegro Open Championships. In 2003 she captured the prestigious German Open Championships, and came in second in both the Turkish and Spanish opens. In 2004 Arussi concentrated on achieving the Olympic criteria, and succeeded in Azerbaijan when she placed second in a pre-Olympic tournament. Her string of success continued through the open season as she won Belgian Open Championships for the second time and came in second in Germany after losing to Esraa Halawa of Egypt in the final. On May 29, Arussi won the National Championship held in Jerusalem, in the under-51 kilograms category.
Sources: Jews In Sports