London Paralympics

Israel wins first gold at 2012 Paralympics

Former Apache pilot Noam Gershony triumphs in wheelchair tennis; ‘You symbolize the victory of the human spirit,’ Netanyahu tells him

Noam Gershony (center) with his co-medalists at the London 2012 Paralympics (photo credit: Razi Livnat/courtesy IASP)
Noam Gershony (center) with his co-medalists at the London 2012 Paralympics (photo credit: Razi Livnat/courtesy IASP)

Israel’s Noam Gershony on Saturday won a gold medal in the men’s singles quad tennis tournament at the London Paralympic Games.

Gershony beat top-ranking American wheelchair tennis player David Wagner 6:3, 6:2, to secure a first gold medal for Israel on the penultimate day of the Games.

Previously an Apache helicopter pilot, Gershony was injured in an aerial crash during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally congratulated Gershony on Saturday evening, telling him that he was “very excited” about the tennis player’s victory.

“The State of Israel embraces you for your great achievement. You symbolize the victory of the human spirit over the difficulties created by the reality in which we live. This is gold for you and the country,” Netanyahu said.

On Wednesday, Gershony and Shraga Weinberg finished third in the tennis doubles tournament after beating a Japanese team in the bronze medal match.

On Tuesday, the two secured spots in the semi-finals of the men’s singles quad tennis. They faced off against each other for a spot in the final, with Gershony prevailing and then taking gold on Saturday.

In their quarter-finals games on Tuesday, Gershony beat Bryan Barten from the United States, 6:1, 6:1, while Weinberg beat Britain’s Peter Norfolk 3:6, 7:5, 6:0.

Also on Saturday, swimmer Inbal Pezaro won a bronze medal in the 100-meter freestyle swim match, clocking a time of 1:22.56 to finish third. Last Saturday, Pezaro won her second medal of the games, a bronze in the women’s 200-meter freestyle.

Israel had won 333 medals in the Paralympics, 113 of them gold, prior to these games. Established in 1948 by a Jewish doctor who escaped Nazi Germany, the Paralympics used to be known as “parallel” or “special” Olympics.

Aaron Kalman contributed to this report.

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