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Pavel Gofman

(1979 - )

Pavel Gofman was born on November 26, 1979, in the Ukraine. Gofman competed for the Ukraine as a youth but came to Israel despite its non-existent gymnastics pedigree. Pavel explains: “We had family in Ashdod who came to Israel at the beginning of the 90's, but we stayed in Luhansk because things were still good for us and I was doing well at gymnastics. A week after I arrived, I called the Wingate Institute, but they didn't know what to tell me. So I talked to my coaches in Ukraine and they put me in touch with coaches in Israel.” Despite this handicap he has enjoyed considerable success on the international circuit and easily made the cut for the 2004 Games Olympic team. Pavel specializes in floor exercises, pommel horse, high bar, still rings and parallel bars. His versatility allows for very strong all-around finishes.

In 1996, Pavel represented the Ukraine in the European Youth Championship in Copenhagen. He was among the outstanding talents in a team that won third place in the competition. In 1997 the Ukraine came in 9th in the European Championship. The team would win silver in the Sydney Olympics but Gofman had already moved to Israel in 1999.

In his first major tournament as an Israeli, the gymnast competed in the World Championship in Beijing where he ranked 63th all-around. He showed vast improvement in the 2000 European Championship held in Bremen where he came in 13th and received backing from the Israeli Olympic Committee for the first time. That year he was drafted into the army and found it difficult to earn a release for international competitions.

In 2001 he competed in Genk at the European Championship and came in 12th. In 2003, Gofman reentered the World Championship and impressed the gymnastic world as he placed 17th in Anaheim. That same year he won the Romanian International held in Ploiesti due to his tremendous parallel bar display (he earned a 9.562 score) and his general consistency. In 2004, having already guaranteed his Olympic berth, Pavel gave his best major tournament performance yet. He finished 7th with a formidable 54.312 all-around score and shone in the still rings with a 9.375 score.

Pavel represented Israel in the 2004 Olympics as its only artistic gymnast. He enjoyed a very solid qualification round on August 14. He ranked tenth overall in the individual All-around qualification, having completed the three necessary events. Gofman's score guaranteed him a berth in the individual All-around final, which consists of the top 24 gymnasts. He made history as the first Israeli gymnast to qualify for an Olympic final. In the final itself, held on August 18, Gofman finished 19th overall with 55.686 points. His best score was a hefty 9.725 in the uneven bars. In the other events Pavel scored: 9.100 on the floor exercise, 9.262 on the pommel horse, 9.425 on the rings, 9.112 on the vault and 9.062 on the beam.

Sources: Jews In Sports