Noam Gershony wins Israel's first Paralympics gold
By ALLON SINAI
Gershony defeats top-ranked American David Wagner 6-3, 6-1 in the Quad wheelchair tennis finals.
Six years after almost losing his life during the 2006 Lebanon War, Noam
Gershony scaled the top of the Paralympic podium in London on Saturday, winning
the gold medal in the Quad wheelchair tennis tournament.
suffered severe injuries when his Apache helicopter crashed to the ground near
Ramot Naftali after a collision with another IDF helicopter.
co-pilot Ran Yehoshua Kochva were making their way towards the Lebanese border
to assist IDF troops on the ground.
Yehoshua Kochva was killed, while
Gershony was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
a long and arduous recovery process and decided to take up wheelchair
Gershony won the French Open at Roland Garros earlier this year
and quickly rose to become the world’s No. 2 ranked player.
crowning moment came on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-1 win over world No. 1 David
Wagner, becoming the first Israeli to win a Paralympic gold since
“I can’t put into words how it felt to hear Hatikva and see the
flag at the top of the pole,” said Gershony, who couldn’t stop the tears as the
national anthem sounded. “I never thought I would have the chance to represent
the country and certainly never believed that I would be able to bring it such
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called to congratulate
Gershony. “I was very emotional when I saw you win,” Netanyahu said. “The
state of Israel embraces you on this great achievement. You symbolize the
triumph of the human spirit over the difficulties of life.”
Shimon Peres, who met Gershony before the Paralympics, also spoke with the gold
medalist. “You proved that you are as good on court as you are in the
sky, talented in the Apache and tennis,” Peres said. “We are very proud
of you. This is the best news we could have received this
Gershony, who will carry the Israel flag in Sunday’s closing
ceremony in London, also won a bronze medal in the doubles tournament with
Gershony’s gold was Israel’s seventh medal in total at
London, but just hours later swimmer Inbal Pezaro took the delegation’s tally to
eight, two more than Israel claimed in Beijing four years ago.
her third bronze medal in London when she ended the 100-meter freestyle S5
disability class final in third place in a time of 1:22.56 minutes.
25-year-old has now got eight Paralympic medals to her name from three
Besides Pezaro, Gershony and Weinberg, Israel’s other medals in
London were won by swimmer Itzhak Mamistvalov, shooter Doron Shaziri and
handcyclist Koby Lion.
Like Gershony, Shaziri and Lion are also disabled
as a result of their IDF service.
“Gershony and all of the disabled IDF
veterans participating in the Paralympics are a testament to the triumph of the
spirit over the body,” said Haim Bar, chairman of the Disabled IDF Veterans
Organization. “Gershony began playing tennis four and a half years ago
and he has shown that even though his body may be hurt his spirit is not.”