(photo credit: Yisroel Pinchas / Pashut magazine)
Bahrain's Mushir Salem Jawher claimed an historic victory in the 30th Tiberias Marathon on Thursday, the first time an athlete representing the Arab state has even competed in Israel.
The runner, who was born in Kenya and was brought to Israel along with 20 other Kenyans by Mike Kosky, the country's former national athletics team coach, finished the race in 2 hours 13 minutes and 12 seconds. He was closely followed by Kenyans Joseph Kirwabirgen (2:13:14), 2002 winner Simon Bor (2:13:34) and Benjamin Kipketer Bor (2:13:48).
Full story: Bahrain's Jawher wins in Tiberias
Speaking after the race, Jawher told The Jerusalem Post he was "very proud" to run in Israel and said that even though Bahrain has no official diplomatic ties with Israel, it is a "free country" and "people should live together in harmony."
"When I decided to come I didn't know it was history for me to be in here, but when I arrived [I was] told no other athlete had competed in Israel," added Jawher, a Catholic. "For me, it was no problem and I hope to come back and compete next year."
Not only was it Jawher's first trip to Israel but it was also his first-ever marathon. He has previously concentrated on the 3,000 and 10,000 meter events, in which he hopes to compete at the world championships in Osaka, Japan, next August.
Sports authority head Dr. Yehoshua Dekel also spoke of his delight at the inclusion of an athlete from Bahrain and said he was hoping to encourage participants from other Arab countries, such as Jordan, to compete next year.
"Sport is a true bridge between people," he said. "We are very proud of this very special marathon."