The U.S. may have the Hamm brothers, but Israel has the Alterman brothers. Like their American counterparts, these 24-year-old twins have their eyes on Olympic gold.
Ran and Dan Alterman are Israel's reigning triathlon champions. For the past four years, they have dominated the sport in their native land. Now, they look to bring their success to the international arena.
To qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the Altermans must compete in six races abroad annually. On Sept. 12, they will bring their speed and power to the Los Angeles Triathlon.
"It's very exciting to come to Los Angeles and represent Israel in the race. And to know that people here are so proud of Israel that they wanted to help us make the trip, that's just great," said Ran Alterman, who along with his brother, had his trip to Los Angeles sponsored by Factor's Deli owner Marvin Markowitz, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles. The brothers, who were born in Tel Aviv and grew up in Netanya and Even Yehuda, began competing in triathlons at 13. A decade later, the brothers have a healthy competition going between themselves.
"Racing against Ran is like racing against myself. We have the same training schedule, diet and ability, so to beat him is to better my own performance," said Dan Alterman, who as the Israel Triathlon Association's youth chairman, helps run camps, clinics and a boarding high school for young triathletes in training.
When it comes to major races, the Altermans run against each other but also pull for each other.
"It's most important for the family to come in first and second. As to which of us comes in first, it depends on the day," said Ran Alterman, who, with his brother, is enrolled at the college of management at Rishon LeZion.
While both Altermans served in the Israeli army, they believe it's through their sport that they contribute most to their country.
"There will always be good Israeli soldiers, but there aren't many great Israeli sportsmen," Ran Alterman said. "We've been given the chance to travel the world, talk to people and show them that Israel is about more than war, and that Israelis are strong."
The Los Angeles Triathlon will be held on Sunday, Sept. 12. For more information, go to www.latriathlon.com