Israel snags 4th Paralympics medal as rower Moran Samuel wins silver
President Herzog hails ‘superwoman’; gold medalist swimmer Mark Malyar shatters another world record, advances to finals in 400-meter freestyle round
Rower Moran Samuel won Israel’s fourth medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games on Sunday, picking up a silver in the women’s 2,000-meter single sculls.
Samuel, 39 — a former member of Israel’s national basketball team until 2006, when she suffered a spinal stroke and became paralyzed in her lower body — was one of Israel’s flagbearers at the international event. She took home a bronze medal in Rio five years ago, and another bronze at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Ottensheim, Austria.
On Sunday, Samuel completed the race in 11:18.39, behind Norway’s Birgit Skarstein who won the gold. France’s Nathalie Benoit picked up the bronze.
Speaking later with Radio 103FM, Samuel said she was happy to have improved on her bronze from Rio.
“I promised my children that mom would be coming home with a medal,” the mother of two said. “It was a tough morning in the rowing site, with winds that wanted to prevent us from breaking a world record, but it was a good race with a good result.”
President Isaac Herzog congratulated Samuel in a statement, calling her “superwoman” and adding that she “copes so impressively with all the challenges of life. We are proud of you, Moran!”
Meanwhile, fellow rower Shmuel Daniel finished sixth and last in his men’s PR1 single sculls final, as did Israel’s four-member team in the 2,000-meter final.
Also Sunday, Israeli Paralympic swimmer Mark Malyar — who won a gold medal and broke a world record on Friday — shattered another global record during the men’s 400-meter freestyle round (4:41.82) and advanced to the finals.
His fellow Israeli swimmers Veronika Guirenko and Bashar Halabi, however, failed to qualify for the finals in their respective categories. On Sunday Halabi became the first ever Druze athlete to compete for Israel at either the Olympics and the Paralympics.
Israel has thus far won two gold medals and two silvers during the 2020 Paralympic Games, already topping its medal count in Rio in 2016, where it brought home three bronzes.
On Saturday, swimmer Ami Omer Dadaon won a silver medal in the men’s 150-meter individual medley. Dadaon finished the race in the SM4 category in 2 minutes and 29.48 seconds. Russia’s Roman Zhdanov took the gold and Japan’s Takayuki Suzuki took the bronze.
Dadaon, 20, has cerebral palsy. His mother Yafa told Channel 12 news: “Everyone is happy and overjoyed. He is our pride. He believed in himself all along the way and always dreamt of an Olympic medal.”
She noted that Dadaon was set to compete in several more races. “We all hope he comes back with more medals,” she said.
Dadaon won three gold medals in 2021’s European Championships in Portugal, in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle races.
Malyar, 21, won the men’s 200-meter individual medley final in the SM7 category after finishing with a time of 2:29.01. Silver was taken by Andrii Trusov of Ukraine, while bronze was snagged by Colombia’s Carlos Serrano Zárate.
It was the second gold medal for Israel in Paralympic swimming in three days, after that had not happened since 2004.
On Wednesday, it was Iyad Shalabi who won the 100-meter backstroke in the S1 category, becoming the first Arab Israeli to medal in either the Paralympics or the Olympics.