Two of Israel’s rising star athletes were injured in a hit-and-run incident Friday night and remained hospitalized on Saturday.
Tigist Bito and Radait Balta were training with other young Israeli athletes near Kibbutz Givat Brenner in central Israel when a driver in an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) driver ran them over — deliberately, they said.
Bito, 15, competed in the World Schools Athletics Championships in Malta earlier this year and was a rising long-distance star for Israel’s Rio De Janeiro 2016 Olympic squad. Israel placed 15th overall in the Malta cross country competition.
Bito was seriously injured when the ATV driver rammed into her, shattering her leg. Her condition was late Saturday described as moderate; Balta was also in moderate condition.
Her trainer told Channel 2 that he was not only worried about her budding athletic career, but about whether she would even walk again.
“I haven’t even spoken to the doctors,” Wodage Zvadya told Channel 2. “Is she able to get up and walk? Forget her dream to show the world [her running skills]. It’s not even about that.”
The victims yelled at the driver after he drove recklessly close to them, throwing up sand at them with his ATV. He then deliberately ran them over, they said.
“We didn’t do anything” to prompt the attack, Bito said from her hospital bed. “The driver ran us over on purpose and fled.”
The manhunt for the suspect continued into Saturday night. Zvadya called on him to “turn yourself in.”