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Druze athlete breaks Israeli barrier with record-breaking 1,000-meter run

Biomedical engineering student Karawan Halabi beats time that stood for 25 years, becoming first Druze to set an Israeli best; starts training for the Olympics

Druze Israeli athlete Karawan Halabi seen after setting a new Israeli 1000 m record on February 16, 2021 (Israeli Athletic Association)
Druze Israeli athlete Karawan Halabi seen after setting a new Israeli 1000 m record on February 16, 2021 (Israeli Athletic Association)

Druze athlete Karawan Halabi made history on Wednesday when she completed a 1,000-meter race in 2:43:99 minutes, becoming the first Druze athlete to break an Israeli record.

Halabi, 27, broke the previous record of 2:46.03, set by Edna Lankri 25 years ago.

Sharing her excitement in an interview on Kan Radio on Thursday, Halabi said she “felt elated” by her success.

“I tried to break this record a few weeks ago and couldn’t,” she said. “It was hard, both mentally and physically. Yesterday I was finally able to do it, breaking the previous record by more than two seconds, which is relatively a lot.”

Asked whether she considered her Druze identity to play a role in her achievement in any way, Halabi said it posed challenges.

“It’s being a woman and also part of the Druze community, which is conservative and not as aware of sports… especially in the north,” she said. “But I succeeded despite the challenges.”

 

Alongside her successful athletic career at the Maccabi Haifa sports club, Halabi is also a student of biomedical engineering at the Technion in Haifa, ranked one of the top universities in the Middle East.

“A normal day for me includes morning and evening training sessions and my studies in between,” she said. “I don’t really get any rest between them.”

“Sometimes I feel like I need more rest but I know it’s only temporary, and I keep trying to connect the two worlds in the best way possible,” she added.

With an eye to the future, Halabi hopes to one day make it to the Olympics.

She said she has already begun training toward the 1,500-meter and 800-meter Olympic races. “I’m taking it to the next level so I can make it to the European championship and eventually, hopefully, to the Olympics,” she said.

Halabi is a native of the Druze town of Daliyat al-Karmel in northern Israel. Home to more than 17 thousand Druze, it is the locality with the largest Druze population in Israel.

The Druze population in Israel includes over 140,000 people, the majority of whom identify as ethnically Arab and reside in northern areas of the country. The Druze community in Israel is distinctively known for its loyalty to the state. Most eligible Druze serve in the Israeli military.

 

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