The 2012 Paralympics get underway in London on Wednesday and Israel’s delegation
will be confident of returning home with plenty of medals following the
blue-and-white’s failure to scale the podium in the Olympics earlier this
Israel is sending 25 athletes to London, 18 men and seven women,
and will be hoping to at least equal its medal tally from Beijing four years ago
when it amassed six medals in total, five silvers and one bronze.
undoubted star of the team is swimmer Inbal Pezaro, who already has five Olympic
medals to her name, winning a bronze and a silver in Athens 2004 and claiming
three silvers in China four years later.
Pezaro, who is still just
25-years-old, will compete in four events in London and will be confident of
claiming multiple medals once more after taking three medals at the 2010 World
Championships, including a gold in the 100- meter freestyle in the S5 disability
“It is tough to predict what my chances are at the moment,” Pezaro
said earlier this week ahead of her departure for London.
confidence in my own abilities, but you never know what your rivals might
“I hope to rank among the top three. I’m going to London with
high expectations, but realistic ones.”
Israel will send five more
swimmers to London: Itzhak Mamistvalov, Yoav Valinsky, Inbal Ganapol Shwartz,
Iad Shalabi and Erel Halevi.
The participation of Mamistvalov in the
Paralympics was marred with controversy due to his conviction of negligent
homicide in July 2010.
In August 2008, Mamistvalov, who was born with
cerebral palsy, lost control of his car and hit a crowded bus stop, killing two
people and injuring several others.
However, due to his severe disability
he was spared a prison sentence and was only handed 400 hours of community
service, while also having his driving license revoked.
won three medals in Athens 2004, was withdrawn from the Israel delegation to the
Beijing Games due to the accident, but his inclusion in the team to London
angered the families of those killed in the accident who claim that he is not
worthy of representing Israel.
Noam Gershony, Boaz Kramer and Shraga
Vainberg will represent Israel in the Quad wheelchair tournaments, with Gershony
having a real chance at taking a medal after winning the French Open at Roland
Garros earlier this year.
Dror Cohen, Benny Vexler and Arnon Efrati will
take part in the three-person Keelboat (Sonar) competition and will be
optimistic of reaching the podium after winning the World Championships at the
Paralympic venue in Weymouth.
Shimon Ben-Yakov and Hagar Zehavi will
compete in the two-person Keelboat (SKUD18).
Israel will send two
representatives to the table tennis competitions: Liran Geva and Shay
Doron Shaziri, who will carry the Israel flag in the opening
ceremony, will take part in the shooting events, while Koby Lion, Nati Groberg
and Pascale Bercovitch will participate in the road cycling races.
Samuel, Reuven Magnagey and Olga Sokolov will compete in the rowing, with
Yonatan Dresler to take part in the equestrian events and Gadi Yarkoni to race
the marathon for the blind.
On TV: Paralympics Opening Ceremony (live on Channel 1 at 10:15 p.m.)