As of this posting, Israeli athletes have won five medals at the Tokyo Paralympics, including two Gold medals.
Israel’s first Gold medal of the 2020 games went to Israeli-Arab Iyad Shalabi. Shalabi is the first Arab-Israeli to win a medal at the Paralympics. Last week he came in first in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 2:28.04.
Iyad Shalabi is 34 years old and comes from a Muslim family from the northern Israel town of Shfaram. Shalabi was born deaf and, when he was only 13 years old, became paralyzed in his lower body due to an accident. He is featured in a documentary called “Swimming Against the Current” that was shown at the 2017 Jerusalem Film Festival. The film follows Iyad and his father, Yusef, as they travelled to the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.
On Friday, 21 year old Mark Malyar won a gold medal while breaking a world record. He did so in the men’s 200-meter individual medley final in the SM7 category, finishing with a time of 2:29.01. Its Malyar’s first Paralympic medal. Both Mark Malyar, and his twin brother Ariel Maylar, who is also competing in the Tokyo games, suffer from cerebral palsy. The two began their swimming careers at the age of five as part of their physical therapy.
He is competing in Tokyo and so is his twin brother Ariel. The brothers were born with cerebral palsy and started swimming at age 5 for physical therapy.
The brothers are from Kiryat Motzkin, a Haifa suburb. In 2017 Mark was named Athlete of the Year by the Israeli Paralympic Committee. He enjoys having his twin brother Ariel in the Israeli Para swimming team alongside him. “It’s great that the team has twin brothers in it. When we were younger there was a lot of competition between us, but now, not so much,” Malyar told the Israeli paper Davar in 2019.
And today Moran Samuel took home the Silver medal in the women’s 2,000-meter single sculls, with a time of 11:18.39. The 39 year old Samuel was previously an Israeli basketball star. In 2006, she became paralyzed from the waist down after suffering a spinal stroke.