Israeli paraplegic bobsledder competes against able-bodied athletes at Worlds

For Nicholls and Malikin, the objective was clear: Represent Israel in a positive way.

By DAVID B. GROSSMAN
March 12, 2019 07:59
3 minute read.
DAVE NICHOLLS (left) and Ilya Malikin (right) represented Israel together in the two-man bobsledding

DAVE NICHOLLS (left) and Ilya Malikin (right) represented Israel together in the two-man bobsledding event at the World Championships this month in British Columbia. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Some said it could not be done.

Others had their concerns, doubts and quite a bit of guesswork on the outcome.

Dave Nicholls and Ilya Malikin remained focused at challenging some of the top bobsledders in the world – including Olympic medalists – at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World championships in March in Whistler, British Columbia

For Nicholls and Malikin, the objective was clear: Represent Israel in a positive way.

The Israeli duo knew the odds were not in their favor with Nicholls, a wheelchair athlete, sitting in his sled at the start of the race and leaving Malikin to push off and get the running start.

But being on the world stage, and finishing 29th, was more important than leaving with a trip to the awards podium and medals.

The 55-year old Nicholls, who suffered a tragic accident in 2002 when an out-of-control snowboarder collided with him, has been competing for the past 14 years and just might be the oldest bobsledder in the world.

Eyes focused on the start of their race, Nicholls – the only Para-athlete competing against able-bodied athletes – was in the pilot position of the sled. The 36-year old Malikin, unlike other sleds with two running athletes, knew every second would be crucial. Even with a perfect race start, the Israeli sled would still likely be five seconds slower.

“We had a positive attitude, knew there was lots of pressure and were using a repaired sled that was damaged in a nasty training run crash a few days earlier,” said Nicholls, who admitted later that he broke his hand in that incident.

Repairs were made to a mangled push bar, a key part of the sled needed for power at the start of the run. There was concern the Israelis would have no sled. That’s when Nicholls came in contact with a Vancouver company, owned by Israelis, who fixed the sled and Nicholls returned to Whistler just in time to compete.

“It was close, but miracles do happen,” said Nichols, a member of the original group that introduced bobsledding as a sport for paraplegic athletes. “We stayed calm, remained focused and knew that quitting was not an option.”

After finishing three runs, the combined time for the Israeli sled fell short of what was required for a fourth run needed to challenge for awards.

“For me, the goal was to have clean runs, have good timing and do the best for Israel,” said Nicholls, who resides in Park City, Utah, and is a dual citizen. “We won a medal by succeeding to get to these finals, to qualify and have clean runs – no crashes.”

Worth noting, on the first day of competition at one of the world’s fastest and toughest courses, 17 sleds crashed.

The Israeli team qualified for the Worlds after some positive performances at the North American Cup a few months earlier.

“Sure this was a big thing for us, the beauty of this is that we achieved something special – having the first wheelchair athlete to compete, against able-bodied athletes, at a world bobsled championship,” said David Greaves, President of Bobsleigh Skeleton Israel.

“They had to work harder given the challenges. It’s about persistence and perseverance, ability, not disability.”

Greaves, who resides in Winnipeg and is a fund raising consultant for charities, is also a citizen of Israel and started the Bobsleigh program in 2002.  Israel has been forced to borrow sleds, including the one loaned by New Zealand to Nicholls and Malikin.

Israel has seven athletes in the bobsled and skeleton program. Joel Seligstein, from Memphis, Tennessee and Georgia Cohen, from Cambridge, England, also competed for Israel in their respective Skeleton races.

Seligstein finished 29th of 36 in the Men’s Skeleton and Cohen placed 26th of 26 in the Women’s Skeleton.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

MK Rafi Peretz at a ceremony at the education ministry
July 17, 2019
Rafi Peretz retracts comparison between intermarriage and the Holocaust

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF

Cookie Settings