Shalom Life | June 09, 2015

Meet Your Israeli Paralympic Athletes: Part 1

Shalom Life previews the Israeli representation at the upcoming Paralympics in London

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: August 27th, 2012 in Culture » Society » News

Meet Your Israeli Paralympic Athletes: Part 1

The 2012 Paralympic Games will kick off August 29 in London, England, just a few weeks after the conclusion of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

This year, Israel will send a delegation of 25 athletes to represent their home country in a variety of nine different Paralympic sports. This past month, these athletes met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who encouraged them to build on their 2008 success of winning six medals in Beijing.

“What you demand of yourselves, nobody demands of you,” the PM told the delegation. “I hope that you bring home medals – but from my point of view, you already have.”

To preview the Israeli representation in London, Shalom Life proudly presents the first part of a list of all Israeli athletes competing at the Paralympic Games. Click here for part two.

Cycling

Kobi Leon

Quadriplegic hand-cyclist Koby Leon is considered a serious gold medal contender in the hand-bikes competition at this year’s Paralympics. The 35-year-old was a member of an elite unit in the army 16 years ago when his squad was hit by an explosive device in Southern Lebanon, killing two members and leaving Leon a paraplegic. This will be his first Paralympics.

Nati Gruberg

Gruberg, a fellow hand-cyclist, was a 2004 gold medalist in Athens, Greece. He originally came to the Paralympics through the Israeli organization Etgarim (Challenges), which offers recreational and competitive sports training for the disabled. In 1999, Gruberg, now 42, suffered a motorcycle accident that left him unable to walk without crutches. After spending two years in the hospital, Gruberg was ranked seventh in the world in hand-cycling before winning his medal. He cites Lance Armstrong as his inspiration.

Pascale Berkowitz

After representing Israel four years ago as a rower in Beijing, Berkowitz, a mother of two, enters the 2012 Games as a hand-cycling champion in her category. The 44-year-old grew up in France and lost both her legs in a train accident when she was 17. Today, she is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and novelist. Berkowitz also came to the Paralympics through Etgarim.

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