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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Israeli Medals in Paralympics are More Important Than Winning in Regular Olympics

I really don't care if Israel never wins another "regular Olympics" medal, as long as we continue to win medals in the Paralympics.
Photo: Razi Livnat
Noam Gershony won Israel's first gold medal of the 2012 London Paralympics on Saturday, beating top-ranked American David Wagner 6-3, 6-1 in the Quad wheelchair tennis finals....
Gershony also won a bronze medal in the Paralympics' doubles tournament along with fellow countryman Shraga Weinberg.
The Israeli delegation so far picked up eight medals in London, including the three in men's tennis by Gerhsony and Weinberg, with shooter Doron Shaziri and handcyclist Koby Lion both winning silver, swimmer Inbal Pezaro taking two bronzes and swimmer Itzhak Mamistvalov claiming one bronze.
With limited budgets in sport, we must prioritize, and the handicapped, whether congenital, or due to army wounds, accidents or whatever the reason, should be given every chance to reach their potential and excel.

I think it says a lot about Israel, all good of course, that we do much better in the Paralympics than we do in the regular ones.  It's also interesting that we do very well in all sorts of Math and Science competitions and our various Nobel Prize awards are far out of proportion to our size.

Tiny Jamaica, with a population much smaller than Israel's wins lots of Olympic medals.

Are those Olympic medals really all that important?  Just because Jamaica has the highest per capita win rate, is it a good place to live?  No, not at all.

In the Paralympic Medal Count, Israel is davka ahead of Jamaica:
45 1258*
46 1102*
46 1102*
46 1102*
46 1102*
50 1045*
51 1012*
52 1001*
52 1001*
52 1001*
52 1001*
I think that a country should be judged more on how they help their handicapped than how well their fully able-bodied athletes do in international competitions.

There has been a lot of coverage of the Paralympics on Israeli television.  I caught a program in which they had a handicapped athlete discussing the competition.  I missed the beginning of the show so didn't quite know her handicap, but from what she said, I gathered that either she didn't have legs or they were paralyzed.  And she hd been certain that from her experience it was easy to live without functioning legs.   She was telling us how amazing one of the competitors was, because what he could do with one leg in target shooting made her rethink the usefulness of legs.

This attitude may sound a bit strange, but it reminded me of the kids I observed in Alyn Children's Orthopedic Hospital over twenty years when one of my sons was hospitalized there for a couple of weeks.  The kids, who lived there full-time, were having a great time whizzing around in their wheelchairs.  That was their life, and they were kids like all other kids.

May this be in memory of
who thanked G-d
every morning when he awoke
l'ilu'i nishmato
may his soul ascend higher

*gold, silver, bronze, total


Rickismom said...

We may do relatively well due to the high number of handicapped people. But Israel is still pretty bad on accessibility.

Batya said...

It's better than it used to be. Our shul has ramps and a second Ezrat Nashim which you enter by ramp. Nothing will ever be perfect. So many houses were built in the states without toilets on the entrance floors. You had to go up or down half a flight or more to use the loo.

LondonMale said...

Also remember that the founder of the Paralympic games, Ludwig Guttman, was Jewish.

Batya said...

Thanks for that info.