The Uniqueness of Israel
Israel and the Olympic Games
While Israel is known for excelling at many things, sports isn’t really one of them. The country has had some success in basketball but it is certainly not known as a sporting powerhouse. However, over the years the country has managed to rack up a modestly impressive number of Olympic medals.
In total Israel has won 9 Olympic medals, all at the summer games, one gold, one silver and seven bronze.
Gal Fridman won the single gold medal in sailing in 2004, it was his second medal after he won bronze in 1996 and he is the only Israeli multi-medallist. The silver was won by Yael Arad in judo in 1992. The bronze medals have come from a variety of sports but a number of them were won in martial arts and water events.
As mentioned, this isn’t the most impressive tally. However, the country has fared far better at the Paralympic Games and has won a total of 375 medals: 123 gold, 123 silver and 129 bronze. One person, Zipora Rubin-Rosenbaum, won a great many of these medals. Between 1964 and 1988 she won 30 medals at the Paralympic Games, 15 of them golds. Uri Bergman also won an impressive 14 medals for Israel between 1976 and 1988, 12 of which were gold.
In true Israeli style, despite not having had a great deal of success at the Olympics, the country continues to a send a large number of athletes every four years. For instance, there were 47 athletes from Israel at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the Israeli swimming team were the first to use the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
If you have spent some time in Israel already you will probably have noticed the fashion retail chain Castro. Castro have now designed the Israeli Olympic team’s outfits for six consecutive games. At the 2016 Olympics the athletes’ outfits featured blue and white shades of the flag and some overlapping triangles designed to reference the Star of David. While Castro is an extremely popular shop in Israel, there were many who thought that the outfits were better suited to El Al flight attendants than to elite athletes.
Of course, it is very hard to think of Israel and the Olympics without remembering the 1927 Munich Olympics where 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by the “Black September” terrorists. In recognition of this, the Israeli delegation always holds a memorial ceremony before flying to the competition. Furthermore, on 3 August 216, two days before the start of the Rio Olympics, the International Olympic Committee officially honoured the murdered athletes for the first time.
If your gap year falls at the right time you may be lucky enough to see Israel’s own version of the Olympics. The Maccabiah Games takes place every four years and is recognised by the International Olympic Committee. Furthermore, it is considered to be the third largest sporting event in the world!
Israel may not be about to top the medals table, but it is a country that takes great pride in its athletes and is sure to continue sending them to the Olympics for years to come.