Arab Israeli Swimmer Iyad Shalabi Wins Gold in Tokyo Paralympics
Swimmer Iyad Shalabi took first place in the 100-meter backstroke on the opening day of competitions at the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games, becoming the first Palestinian citizen of Israel to medal in the international competition for athletes with disabilities. With a time of 2:28.04, he edged out silver medalist Anton Kol of Ukraine by just a quarter of a second. Italy’s Francesco Bettella took the bronze. Shalabi, 34, was born deaf-mute; an accident at the age of 13 left him paralyzed in all four limbs. He lives in Shefa-‘Amr and trains in nearby Haifa, at a sports facility run by ILAN, the Israel Association for Children with Disabilities. Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper congratulate Shalabi on the win, calling Shalabi “an inspiring man whose life has been full of victories” who “aimed high and filled us all with pride.”
In other Paralympics news, audience favorite Ibrahim Hamadtou, a table tennis player from Egypt who lost both of his arms in a train accident at age 10, wowed viewers with his inspiring performance but lost to Korea’s Park Hong-Kyu. Hamadtou holds the paddle in his mouth and serves with his foot. A video featuring Hamadtou, titled “Nothing is Impossible,“ has been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube.
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