Thus far, Israel’s Paralympic squad has garnered four gold medals, two silvers, and a bronze – six in swimming and one in rowing.
With five days left to the Tokyo Paralympic Games, Israel’s 33-member team has garnered seven medals, six of them in swimming.
Mark Malyar, a 21-year-old swimmer who competes in a disability category for athletes with cerebral palsy, earned three of those medals.
Malyar won a gold in the men’s 220-meter individual medley, a gold in the men’s 400-meter freestyle, and a bronze in the men’s 100-meter backstroke.
Ami Dadaon, 20, won a gold medal in the 200-meter freestyle, breaking his own world record by six seconds. He also took the silver medal in the 150-meter individual medley.
Like Mark Malyar and his brother Ariel, who is also on the Paralympic squad, Dadaon is a twin born prematurely with cerebral palsy.
The first medal of the Tokyo Games for Israel was a gold won by Iyad Shalabi in the men’s 100-meter backstroke on August 25.
Shalabi, 34, is the first Muslim Israeli to win a Paralympic or Olympic medal. He was deaf from birth and became wheelchair-bound following an accident at age 13.
All three of these swimming medalists train at Ilan Rehabilitation and Sports Center in Haifa under coach Yaacov Beininson.
Rower Moran Samuel, 39, won a silver medal in the women’s single 2,000-meter event. She previously won a bronze medal in the Rio Games in 2016.
Samuel, who trains with Paula Grizetti at the Daniel Rowing Center in Tel Aviv, was a member of Israel’s national women’s basketball team before suffering a sudden spinal stroke at age 24 that caused partial paralysis. She also is a pediatric physical therapist.
The motto of the Paralympics is “Spirit in Motion,” and all the Israeli athletes have exemplified that concept.
“Israeli athletes have been winning medals of all colors and setting world records as they do it,” says Israel Paralympic Committee Honorary President Andrew Danos.
Photo: Keren Isaacson/IPC