Photo: Razi Livnat
Noam Gershoni
Photo: Razi Livnat

Israeli tennis player wins Paralympics gold

War veteran Noam Gershoni beats world's No.1 quad tennis player; earns Israel's first gold medal in London Paralympics Games

Israeli tennis player Noam Gershoni won the gold medal in the London Paralympics Games Saturday.


This was Israel's first gold medal in the Paralympics Games.


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Gershoni beat the world's No. 1 wheelchair tennis player, American David Wagner, in the singles game, with a score of 1:6, 3:6.  



His medal is the seventh Paralympics medal won by Israel in the London Games, and the first gold medal for Israel since the 2004 Athens Games.


Meanwhile, Israel scored another achievement in London on Saturday when swimmer Inbal Pezaro won a bronze medal, in the 100m freestyle. This is Pezaro's third Paralympics bronze in the London Games.


The 29-year-old wheelchair tennis player is a former IAF helicopter pilot, who was injured in the Second Lebanon War. He began playing tennis only 18 months ago.


Since picking up a racquet for the first time, Gershoni has been racking up one title after another. He arrived at the London Games as one of the world's top-three quad tennis players.


A visibly emotional Gershoni teared up during the medals ceremony. "I'm on top of the world," he told Ynet. "Hearing Hatikvah play and seeing the Israeli flag fly high – I can't describe this feeling."


היום הגדול בחייו. גרשוני (צילום: gettyimages)

Oמn top of the world. Gershoni at the medal ceremony (Photo: GettyImages)


Representing Israel in the Paralympics and winning any medal – let alone the gold – "Was beyond anything I ever thought I'd accomplish," he added.


"I was handed my life back," he later told Ynet about his recovery. "It was a miracle I survived. That moment I decided I won't waste my life and will try to do my best in the area I love. But I never imagined I would get to the Paralympics and pick up a gold medal."


"Today, Noam proved he is the best (tennis) player in the world," the Israeli team's coach, Kobi Wiener, said.


"He has drive and talent and today is the peak of two years of hard work. These are his first Paralympics Games, so this is quite the achievement."


נועם גרשוני ודייויד ווגנר (רזי לבנת)

Gershoni and Wagner (Photo: Razi Livnat)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also congratulated Gershoni: "I was moved by your victory. The State of Israel embraces you as one for this tremendous achievement," Netanyahu said.


President Shimon Peres congratulated Gershoni following his win: "You've brought the Israeli people some exciting news – the best we could have hoped for," he said.

גרשוני עם הנשיא פרס, לפני היציאה ללונדון (צילום: יוסף אבי יאיר אנגל)

Gershoni and Peres before Paralympics (Photo: Yosef Avi Yair Engel)


Defense Minister Ehud Barak also called Israeli wheelchair tennis player: "We all had our fingers crossed for you and we are delighted that you won," Barak said. "Your war injury, your recovery and your achievements are an inspiration to us all."


Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat also called Gershoni: "You had an entire country glued to the screens throughout the games and you added a golden shimmer to the Israeli mission's great success in the games," she said.


"You have climbed to the top of wheelchair tennis in such a short time... I want to thank you for your commitment and I'm sure all Israelis are proud of you today."



פרסום ראשון: 09.08.12, 18:33
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