Shlomi is featured in the latest edition of the Dutch cycling magazine, ‘BikeFreak’.
Jim van Overbeek, a former Dutch XCO Champion and now editor of BikeFreak, was interested to hear Shlomi’s story, from his home trails in Israel to following the Olympic dream. We are delighted to see Shlomi recognised by international media and we are very proud to support such a hard-working and talented gentleman.
The article is in Dutch, but you can read the original English transcript below from which the article was formed.
Q) Shlomi, where do you live right now?
A) I am living in Israel.
Q) On the teamwebsite I read: living in Kibbutz Ein Ha’shofet. Can you tell us a bit how life is there? Can you train OK in the neighbourhood?
A) Kibbutz is a collective community settlement with socialism lifestyle. My wife was born and raised in the Kibbutz and we have lived here together for four years. The environment is ideal for a cyclist, with endless trails nearby and a peaceful environment. Plus the Kibbutz has a dining room, gym and laundry service – perfect for an athlete like me!
Q) Can you tell me how you started cycling in Israel? Did you do other sports when you were young?
A) From the moment I learned how to ride a bicycle it was a pleasant for me. As a young child I used a bicycle as transportation to school and to visit friends. Naturally I started to challenge myself with basic skills and off road trails. When I was 12 years old I joined a local club and that time I started racing too. Except cycling I used to play inline hockey and play the drums.
Q) Do you also race on the road?
A) In my first years of racing I used to compete road bike and downhill. I was good in all of the disciplines, but cross country was – and still is – my favourite.
Q) You are national champ. Congrats! Can you tell us how that race went?
A) Thank you! It was a good battle between me and Rotem Ishay who lives and trains in Colorado and always comes to the race with good form. It was a tactical race – on the last lap I made the gap for the win. It’s the 4th year in a row that I have won the National Champs!
Q) Your dream is the Olympics in Rio. Do you have a chance for selection?
A) Short answer: YES! Long answer: the Olympic qualification divided to 2 parts –
Firstly we need to be sure that Israel is ranked in the top 23 nations who get the chance to go. At the moment Israel is in 18th place..
Secondly there will be an inner qualification for which Israeli rider will go. The test will be 3 World Cup events in the 2016 season.
Q) Can you tell us something about the bike scene in Israel? Is MTB getting more popular? Many races? (XCO or Marathon…?) Not too hot to race?
A) The bike scene gets bigger and bigger every year. In the “hobby” level you can see a massive amount of cyclists on the road and off road.
There is a national project for building single trails in many areas in Israel that has been running successfully in the last few years. The possibilities are always extending.
We had 14 UCI races during 2015 as part of our Olympic campaign. Most of the events are XCO. Unfortunately, the professional aspect of the sport is still not in line with the growing popularity of the sport. There is no big sponsor who will raise their hand to develop professional teams and athletes. A young Israeli rider who would like to be professional must find their way in Europe.
Q) I read last year there was even a Epic Israel race! Did you compete there?
A) Yes, there is an Epic Israel. It’s a big event with top class organisation. If you like to explore I can really recommend racing here – there are positive vibes along with amazing trails, and an experience unique to Israel.
Q) Do you follow a special training program? Can you tell something about that?
A) I have a specific training plan for the demands of XCO racing. My coach, Christoph Soukup, is from Austria. During the preparation period I spend a lot of days on the road bike and also in the gym for strength.
Q) How did you get in contact with the OMX Pro Team?