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Michael Kalganov

(1974 - )

Michael Kalganov is an Israeli professional kayaker who has competed in the Olympic games.

Kalganov was born on October 24, 1974, in Tashkent, Uzhekistan. One of the top kayakers in the world, Kalganov began to compete in kayaking because he wanted to follow in his brother Andrey's footsteps. Andrey Kalganov was a youth champion in the Soviet Union, and is also an international kayaker. In 1995, UJA brought Kalganov to Israel. Michael said, "I have friends who went to America and Germany. But as a Jew, I believe that my place is here. I feel very much at home in Israel."

In both 1998 and 1999 Kalganov won the gold medal in the K1 200-meter (not an Olympic event) at the World Championships, and added a silver and bronze respectively in the K1 500-meter race at the last two World Championships. Kalganov also won the gold medal in the K1 1000-meter and took the silver in the K1 500 meter at the 2000 European Championship.

A member of the Israeli kayaking team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Kalganov won the fourth medal in Israeli Olympic history when he captured the bronze in the K1 500-meter (1:59.563). The K1 500-meter final took place on the final day of competition and was Israel's last chance at a medal. Kalganov began the race aggressively, setting a furious pace against a very strong wind, which slowed him down towards the end of the race. His main competitors had the advantage of being shielded from the wind by the grandstand whereas Kalganov, racing in lane 8, lacked the same protection. He finished in third place, only 1.716 seconds behind the gold medalist. Kalganov also finished in fourth place in the K1 1000-meter with a time of 3:35.099; he missed the bronze medal by .042 seconds.

After winning the bronze medal (the only medal for Israel at the Games), Kalganov said: "I dreamed of winning. No sportsman thinks of finishing in third position, he dreams of first place. I cannot yet take it all in. I haven't had time to think and I'm not even happy yet. It could have been better." He later said, though: "I am happy now. I'm getting used to the idea. It's the first time here that a competitor from an outside lane has finished in the top three." Kalganov, who emigrated to Israel in the mid-1990s, dedicated his medal to the citizens of the Jordan Valley; he trains on the Kinneret.

In 2001, Kalganov won the World Cup in the K1 500-meter in 1:39.43 (five seconds ahead of the silver medalist), and finished second in the 500-meter at the European Championships. At the World Championships in 2002, he finished in fifth place in the 500-meter.

In 2003 Michael placed at the relatively low 9th place in the World Championships. In 2004 he made the Olympic squad in the European Championships with a 7th place performance in Poznan, Poland but looked far from his best. His 1:43.744 performance was enough in the end.

Kalganov was a member of the Israeli Olympic kayaking team in Athens 2004, but was not in the best form of his career. He refused to take part in the Israeli National Championships in June 2004 since he was unimpressed with the level of organization and had trouble making the Olympic criteria for Athens in the 500-meter event.

Kalganov raced in heat 1 of the K1 500-meter event in the 2004 Athens Games on August 24. Michael placed fourth in the race (1:39.745), thus achieving the 10th best time of the 28 contestants. Kalganov suffered a disappointing performance in the semifinals, held on August 26. He competed in the second semifinal, placing 8th in the race (1:43.411). His time was the 24th best overall and therefore not enough to qualify for the final.

Sources: Jews In Sports