Israeli Paralympic swimmer Mark Malyar won a gold medal on Friday in the Tokyo Games, breaking a world record in the process and becoming the Jewish state’s second medalist in the first three days of competitions.
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 Israel to medal in either the Paralympics or the Olympics.
Friday was Malyar’s first Paralympic medal. He is competing in Tokyo and so is his twin brother Ariel. The brothers were born with cerebral palsy and started swimming at age 5 for physical therapy.
At the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships — which were moved from Malaysia to London after Malaysia refused to allow Israeli athletes in — Mark took home a gold and a silver medal and set a world record, while Ariel came home empty-handed.
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But Mark has said that the pair — who compete in different disability classification levels — are supportive of one another. “I think it’s cool that the delegation has twin brothers,” he told the Davar news outlet in 2019. “I think when we were younger there was more competition between us, but now there’s less.”
President Isaac Herzog phoned Malyar to congratulate him on the win.
“Mark, this is so exciting. You are unstoppable,” Herzog said, according to a statement from his office. “Both a gold medal and a Made-in-Israel world record! I wish you, your brother, and your special coach Yaakov Beininson more medals over the course of the games. Well done!.”
Herzog said he also hopes to see Mark, along with the rest of the Israeli Paralympic delegation, at the President’s Residence at the earliest opportunity.
Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper praised Malyar’s “amazing world record.”
“Mark won an impressive gold medal and is again giving all of us great pride,” Tropper said. “Another gold medal for Israel and another victory for a unique talent with a strong spirit.”