On Wednesday, 3:38:20 in the 200-meter freestyle swim put Inbal Pezaro in third place, bringing Israel’s total at the Paralympics in Rio to three bronze medals. In an event in which competing is already a victory, Israel has much to be proud of.
Pezaro comes from Kibbutz Yizrael. She became paralyzed in her lower torso in childhood. Swimming competitively since the age of 12, she won a bronze medal in Athens 2004 and in London 2012, and a silver medal in Beijing 2008. She has been world champion twice. Exempted from military service, she volunteered in the IDF, serving as a swimming instructor. In 2002 she was honored to light a torch at the national Independence Day celebrations. In 2007 she was awarded “Sportswoman of the Year” title by the Israeli Association for Disabled Sports.
On Sunday, Moran Samuel brought home Israel’s first medal when she won bronze in the 1000-meter single sculls with a time of 5:17.46. Samuel began to train for rowing in 2010 and represented Israel at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London, finishing fifth. Earlier that year, she won a race in single scull competition at the Adaptive Rowing Regatte in Gavirate, Italy.
When the organizers did not have a copy of the Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem, to play, she asked for the microphone and sang it herself.
Samuel grew up in Karmiel and served in the Israeli Air Force. In 2006, she suffered a spinal stroke and became paralyzed in her lower body. She also plays for the Israeli women’s basketball team on wheelchairs and was voted one of the five best players in Europe titled “All Star Team”.
On Monday, Doron Shaziri earned a bronze medal in the Men’s R7-50m Rifle 3 Positions. In 1987, Shaziri was a sniper in the IDF Golani Brigade. On a patrol on the Israeli-Lebanon border, when a mine exploded, causing him to lose a leg. He opened his own business constructing wheelchairs for injured vets.
In 2012, he was chosen to carry the Israeli flag in the opening ceremony of the London Paralympics, in which he won a silver medal. Rio is the sixth Paralympic in a row in which Shaziri has won a medal.
Israel has participated 14 times in the Summer Paralympic Games since 1960, winning over 380 medals, 124 of them gold medals. Israel hosted the event in Tel Aviv in 1968.
Every participant at the Paralympics has their disability grouped into one of five disability categories. Each Paralympic sport then has its own classifications, dependent upon the specific physical demands of competition. Some sports, such as athletics, divide athletes by both the category and severity of their disabilities.