Tokyo 2020

Shattering another world record, swimmer Mark Malyar wins his second Tokyo gold

Israel’s Paralympic Games medal count stands at 5, surpassing its Rio haul with several medal opportunities still on the horizon

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

Israeli swimmer Mark Malyar poses with his gold medal in the 400m freestyle at the Tokyo Paralympics on August 29, 2021. (Keren Isaacson/Israel Paralympic Committee)
Israeli swimmer Mark Malyar poses with his gold medal in the 400m freestyle at the Tokyo Paralympics on August 29, 2021. (Keren Isaacson/Israel Paralympic Committee)

Israeli swimmer Mark Malyar took home his second gold of the Tokyo Paralympics on Sunday, clinching the win in the 400-meter freestyle and breaking his own world record.

Malyar completed the race in 4:31.06, breaking the world record of 4:33.64 that he set in the event in London in 2019. Ukraine’s Andrii Trusov took home silver and the USA’s Evan Austin won bronze.

It was the second gold medal of the Games so far for Malyar, who also won the 200-meter individual medley final and broke a world record on Friday, where he again just edged out Trusov of Ukraine.

“Two gold medals, two world records, and a bright future for someone who started sports as part of hydrotherapy in the pool,” said Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper. “Mark proves that not just talent is important, but also perseverance and a desire to overcome any limitation.”

With two gold medals already around his neck, Malyar, 21, still has three more chances to win additional hardware in Tokyo, in the upcoming 100m backstroke, 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly events.

Israeli swimmer Mark Malyar competes at the Tokyo Paralympics on August 29, 2021. (Keren Isaacson/Israel Paralympic Committee)

Following his second win, Malyar told the Kan public broadcaster that he was happy — and tired.

“I’m happy that I succeeded in getting the result I want, I’m very tired,” he said. “I didn’t feel that I was even going that fast, but it worked and my body is just about done.”

Malyar’s father, Alex expressed his joy to Kan earlier in the day. “He’s a true fighter, I’m so proud,” he said just after the win. “I’m dying to see him and to hug him. I know how much time and effort he has invested.”

Malyar’s twin brother, Ariel Malyar, is also competing at the Tokyo Paralympics. While both brothers have cerebral palsy and began swimming as part of their physical therapy, they compete at different disability levels.

Rower Moran Samuel after winning a silver medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, August 29, 2021. (Lilach Weiss/Israel Paralympic Committee)

Malyar’s gold medal marked the fifth medal so far for Israel at the Tokyo Paralympics and its second medal on Sunday alone. Earlier in the day, rower Moran Samuel picked up a silver in the women’s 2,000-meter single sculls.

Samuel, 39, was one of Israel’s flagbearers at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics last week. She took home a bronze medal at the Games in Rio five years ago, and another bronze at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Ottensheim, Austria.

Earlier Sunday, Israeli swimmers Veronika Guirenko and Bashar Halabi failed to qualify for the finals in their respective categories. Halabi became the first-ever Druze athlete to compete for Israel at either the Olympics or the Paralympics.

Swimmer Erel Halevi competed in the final of the women’s 400m freestyle on Sunday and finished in seventh place. Israeli boccia player Nadav Levi won his match against Portugal’s Nelson Fernandes and will compete against a Thai opponent on Monday.

Israeli swimmer Ami Dadaon shows off the silver medal he won at the Tokyo Paralympics on August 28, 2021. (Lilach Weiss/Israel Paralympic Committee)

Israel has thus far won three gold medals and two silvers during the 2020 Paralympic Games, already topping its medal count in Rio in 2016, where it won 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.

And 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.

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