Israel took gold Monday in the men’s team marathon event at the European Athletics Championships in Munich, an extraordinary success coming 50 years after the massacre of Israeli athletes in the same city.
Israel’s Marhu Teferi also won a silver medal in the individual runners’ competition, while fellow Israeli Gashau Ayale picked up the bronze.
Along with Teferi and Ayale, who are both Ethiopian-born Israelis, the other members of the gold medal squad were Omer Ramon, Yimer Getahun and Girmaw Amare.
The strong showing for Israel came 50 years after 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics.
“This is really exciting for me. I am very happy with this achievement,” Teferi told reporters after the race.
“History in the European championships,” said Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper said in a statement congratulating the athletes: “Tremendous achievements for Israel. We are proud of you!”
Israel’s Olympic Committee said in a statement it was “moved to tears to experience the exciting continuity of Israeli sports on Munich soil” 50 years after the massacre.
Team medals are given to the country whose fastest three runners have the best combined time. Team Israel’s gold-winning result was 6:31:48. The silver medal went to Germany and Spain won bronze.
The men’s marathon title went to host nation Germany as Richard Ringer produced an extraordinarily well-judged final burst past Teferi to take the gold.
Ringer dug deep in front of thousands of onlookers to clock in at 2:10.21, with Teferi crossing the line just two seconds behind, followed by Ayale, a further six seconds adrift.
In the women’s marathon, Israeli runner Maor Tiyouri finished in 28th place with a time of 2:38:04.
Later Monday, Teferi’s wife, Selamawit, competed in the 10,000 meters contest along with another Ethiopian Israeli runner, Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, who won a bronze medal in the race.
Last month, the Kenyan-born runner claimed the bronze medal during the women’s marathon at the World Athletic Championships in Eugene, Oregon, finishing the race with a time of 2:20:18. Her result was a national best at a world championships.
The Teferis represented Israel at the 2020 Olympics, where Marhu finished 13th in the marathon event, the best placing ever for an Israeli athlete. He is also the Israeli marathon record holder. Chemtai Salpeter had been a strong medal contender and was in the leading group the whole race, before bowing out due to menstrual cramps.
AFP contributed to this report.