Blue-and-white sends 33 athletes in 11 disciplines with high hopes of matching 8 medals from London.
By ALLON SINAI
The Israel delegation to the Rio Paralympics left for Brazil on Tuesday, with the goal of at least emulating its success from London four years ago when it returned home with eight medals, including one gold courtesy of wheelchair tennis player Noam Gershony.The Paralympic Games will take place in Rio between September 7 and 18 at the same venues and facilities as the Olympic Games and under the same organizing committee.The games will include 4,350 athletes from 178 countries, who will compete in 23 disciplines. Israel will be represented by 33 athletes in 11 disciplines.Israel has won a total of 380 medals since the first Paralympics in Rome in 1960, including 124 gold medals.The Paralympics have become more and more competitive over the years and simply matching the achievements from London 2012 will be crowned as a resounding success.Among Israel’s best medal candidates in Rio is Paralympic rower, Moran Samuel, who finished in first place at last year’s world championships.“I have just returned from a twomonth training camp in Italy,” said Samuel ahead of her flight to Brazil.Advertisement“As the reigning world champion it is very important for me to maintain my place at the top and win the gold medal.”Samuel also had some advice for her fellow delegation members.“I want to wish my friends that they first and foremost will feel that they gave their all regardless of the ultimate result,” she said. “If you end your event with a feeling that you wouldn’t have done anything differently then nothing else matters. Sometimes that will be good enough for a medal and sometimes only for fifth place, as was in my case in London 2012.”Another medal candidate is wheelchair tennis player Shraga Vainberg, who won a bronze in the doubles four years ago and will have the honor of carrying the Israel flag at the opening ceremony.“I’m really excited ahead of the Games,” said Vainberg, who will play in the doubles with Itai Ernlib. “We had four years to prepare and we have been training intensively over recent months. I want to complete my collection with a gold medal after winning a bronze and silver in the past two games.”
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