Iyad Shalabi, from the Arab town of Shfaram, made history when he became the first Arab Israeli to win an Olympic gold medal for his country on Wednesday. Israel is far more successful at the Paralympic Games than at the “normal” Olympic Games. The Jewish country has so far won a total of 375 medals in the contest for athletes with physical disabilities and only 13 athletes without physical disabilities have won medals for Israel.
Shalabi won his gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke, silver went to Ukraine and bronze to Italy.
Shalabi, 34, was born deaf and dumb to a Muslim family in Shfaram in the Galilee and has been paralyzed in all four limbs since an accident at the age of 13. He competes in handicapped class S1, which is reserved for those with the most severe physical restrictions.
Iyad Shalaby dankt den Gratulanten und Unterstützern auf seine Weise
Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper celebrated Shalabi’s gold medal on Wednesday as a “great achievement”.
“Iyad is an inspiring man whose life is full of victories,” wrote Tropper. “And today, another great victory. Iyad was not intimidated by the high expectations, he set high goals for himself and made us all proud. We are proud of you, Iyad Shalabi!”