As this year’s Israeli delegation prepares to head to London to compete in the 2012 Olympics, this year’s delegation will surely remember the courageous athletes from the ‘72 Munich Games.
An event that took place Tuesday evening in Talpiyot shed light on what the Olympics represent.
“The Olympics are a symbol of freedom and peace between nations” said Dan Alon, an Olympic Fencer from the ‘72 Israeli delegation, to a large crowd at the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel (AACI).
Alon, a survivor of the Munich Massacre, is featured in the documentary “The Eleventh Day: The Survivors of Munich ‘72”.
Alon began fencing when he was only twelve years old and quickly made a name for himself, earning bragging rights as Israel’s Junior Champion, and following national service, Israeli’s National Champion.
Born in Tel Aviv, Dan, like many other athletes today, had a singular dream – to participate in the Olympics.
Dan spoke to the crowd about his own experiences at the Olympics, and recounted the horrific events that occurred.
Weightlifters, Moshe Weinstein, and Joseph Romano, both whom Alon called, “Tremendous human beings, and very dedicated athletes,” tried to fight off the terrorists, and as a result lost their lives.
In the world of sports, athletes relish the opportunity to represent their country at big sporting events such as the Olympics. But very few of them are faced with the life threatening situations that the Israeli delegation faced in Munich.
For the Israeli delegation, the Olympics wasn’t just a competition, it was a chance to show the world that the nation of Israel was thriving. Alon expressed that being the first Israeli team to compete since World War II was a once in a lifetime opportunity “to show the world, that we are here, and still alive!” Alon remembered how close he was to making it to the semifinals. He had defeated his opponent in the first four rounds of his fencing quarterfinal, and needed just one victory to advance.
“My opponent won a few point, and all of a sudden he had defeated me five games to four.”
Athletics competitions are decided by mere milliseconds of a difference. A few milliseconds was the difference that some of the Israeli Olympians had, to try and save their teammates.
Though the games continued after the terrible massacre, according to Alon, “some of the players from various countries decided that in light of what had happened, they would pack their bags and return home – for this I applaud them.”
For Alon, and other Israeli Olympians, one of the most important aspects of the Olympics is that they know the people of Israel will always be by their side. Some of the pain and suffering he felt returning to Israel after the massacre was alleviated when he stepped off the plane.
“When we land at the airport, and I see these beautiful Israeli people, waiting for us – thousands of them, it was something I will never forget.”Click for full JPost coverage