swimming pool under water illustrative.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The fourth day of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games competitions in Abu Dhabi opened on Monday with the awarding of a gold medal to Israeli swimmer Guy Wartikowsky, who who captured first place in the 1,500-meter Open Water Swimming event.
Wartikowsky was very excited on the podium when he received his medal from an Abu Dhabi resident. The 34-year-old Ra’anana native comes from a family of swimmers. He began swimming at the age of eight and turned his hobby into a professional and competitive one.
Practicing three times a week, Wartikowsky specializes in long-distance swimming. He represented Israel at the Special Olympics in Athens (2011) and Shanghai (2007) and won gold medals in the past.
“This is the first time that I have won an Open Water medal and this is a great opportunity for me,” said Wartikowsky after his victory.
Then came the news of another gold medal for the Israeli delegation, thanks to a pair of bowlers – Aran Bar-Peled and Shoshana Nadav – who came in first place in the doubles bowling (Unified) competition.
Also on Monday, blue-and-white judoka Levav Barkan picked up a silver medal in the under-80kg category.
After defeating an opponent from the Netherlands in the first match and a Swiss opponent in the second round, he lost to the large-sized Joduka of Finland in front of him competed in the third battle.
Barkan, who is just 1.5-meters tall and previously won silver and gold medals in Athens and Shangai, was unable to conceal the excitement and burst into tears.
“I fought vert hard,” said Barkan. “There are very strong opponents here, and it was not easy for me, but I am thrilled to win silver.”
Overall, the Israeli team has recorded huge achievements in the competition so far, earning 15 medals – three golds, four silvers and eight bronzes – in three sports.
The basketball team representing Israel has also advanced to the next stage and will play against Canada in the semifinals.
The Israeli delegation in Abu Dhabi of 25 athletes with cognitive developmental disabilities – 20 men and five women – is the largest team from Israel to date to participate in any competition in an Arab country. It is part of 7,500 athletes from 192 countries around the world at the event in Dubai. The Israelis are expected to return to Israel this Friday.
In the coming days, the team’s athletes will compete in other competitions in swimming, judo, bowling and basketball.
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