Israel's Haredi athletics sensation passes on Olympics over Shabbat

Beatie Deutsch, a mother of 5 from Jerusalem, says she feels as though she'd been 'punched in the stomach' after organizers of Tokyo 2020 reschedule the event she's trying to qualify for

Oren Aharoni|
Israeli, ultra-Orthodox marathon runner and a mother of five from Jerusalem says she will not participate in 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, since the event she is on the verge of qualifying for, will be held on Shabbat.
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  • Beatie Deutsch, 29, Israel's athletics sensation, won National Half Marathon Championship in the beginning of the year and is now on course to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
    Deutsch's decision to back away from her dream came after she was informed the competition she could potentially partcipate in, has been rescheduled and will take place on the last Saturday of the Olympic Games.
    View this post on Instagram

    I felt like I was punched in the stomach this morning... . but the truth is I'm more than OK. I wasn't sure if I should share the news with all of you right now, but I've brought you along on my journey this far. . Today I found out that the Olympic marathon date has been switched to Shabbos. . When I decided to pursue my Olympic goal in January, the first thing I did was check the marathon date to make sure it wouldn't conflict with Shabbos. It was scheduled for Sunday August 2 and so I knew I could compete. When they announced the World Championships would take place on Shabbos, I remember not even feeling disappointed because I knew I had the Olympics. There have been several other competitions that were on Shabbos, but it's never even been a question for me. In fact, recently a journalist asked me what challenges I face as a Charedi female runner, and I almost laughed thinking there aren't really any... I said a bit too confidently, "Running is very compatible with my religious lifestyle" . Until now. Suddenly things got real very quickly. Because I've been pretty public about my Olympic dream...and I've invested a whole lot to get myself there...and what if.. what if after all that I make it and I can't even run?! . I'm racing Israel's half marathon championship tomorrow -- and I know that even though I am personally frustrated by the news I need to stay relaxed and happy. So here's what I'm telling myself right now👇 . I will continue to train and push myself to the best of my ability to try and qualify. Regardless of whether the race is switched or not, I'm not letting go yet. I am a fighter, I don't give up easily and I will do whatever I can to get the Olympic marathon date changed . It's hard to fully invest myself when I don't even know if I'm going to be able to run but life isn't always about the results, sometimes the journey is even more important. And I'm here for the journey... . I may not make it the Olympcs... I may not make the standard or I may not be able to run a race that is on Shabbat But one thing I do know is that I will continue to proudly represent what it means to be an Orthodox Jewish women and professional runner for Israel🌎

    A post shared by Beatie Deutsch (@marathonmother) on

    "I felt like I was punched in the stomach," she posted on her Instagram page, telling her followers that she had checked the date of her race long ago to make sure she could participate. "But, the truth is I am more than OK," Deutsch added.
    Deutsch, who is an ultra-Orthodox woman trying out for a place on the Israeli delegation to the Tokyo games said that until now she had not encountered major conflicts in maintaining her lifestyle and training as a top athlete.
    "Things have become more complicated just as I am investing the most to qualify for the games," Deutsch said, adding she is still trying to get the date of the race changed so it will not fall on Shabbat.
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    ברכה דויטש מרתון
    ברכה דויטש מרתון
    Beatie Deutschת Marathon runner
    (Photo: Oren Aharoni)
    "I am planning to keep calm, keep training," Deutsch said. "I am a fighter and will not give up. I will do all I can to change the date."
    She promised to represent Israel with pride as she maintains her values as a religious Jew and a professional athlete.
    "Life isn't always about results, sometimes the journey is even more important and I am here for the journey."
    Deutsch's personal best reached in September in Cape Town stands on 2:36:41.
    The Olympic requirements are for a result of 2:29:30 but since only half the female marathon runners are expected to reach that result, the Tokyo race will include 80 of the athletes whose scores are closest to the required minimum.
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