Palestinian sprinter Mohammed al-Khatib

The Palestinian who dreams of gold

While the chances of the six athletes representing the PA in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics starting this week are quite slim, a young man from Hebron has managed to raise money online for him to train in Texas, and believes he might have what it takes to win big.

For the sixth time, the upcoming Olympics will include a Palestinian delegation, as the top athletes from around the world gather in Rio, Brazil, to compete against each other. The six representatives coming from the Palestinian territories are not considered likely to achieve any monumental goals, but there is one Olympian who might deliver medal for his nation.



The Palestinians first participated in the Olympics during the 1996 games in Atlanta with only two athletes. The six-person Palestinian team travelling to Rio will constitute the largest delegation the Palestinians have ever sent.


Palestinian swimmer Miri Alatrash
Palestinian swimmer Miri Alatrash


Miri Alatrash, a swimmer from Bethlehem, is due to compete in the 50 meter freestyle event. Her training conditions in Bethlehem have not been ideal, as her practices were conducted in a 25-meter pool—half the size of a standard Olympic pool (it should be noted that no Olympic-sized pools exist within the West Bank). She is therefore not harboring great hopes about her performance in Rio, while remaining excited at the opportunity to compete. “I’m very happy,” she said. “This is every Palestinian athlete’s dream.”


Palestinian sprinter Mohammed al-Khatib
Palestinian sprinter Mohammed al-Khatib


Both Alatrash and Ahmed Gebrel, who will represent the Palestinians in the 200 meter event, did not meet the standard set by the Olympics for its competing athletes. They were instead given free tickets as part of an effort to promote the participation of athletes from countries whose general athletic level is on average rather low. They will be joined by judoka Simon Yacoub, equestrian Christian Zimmerman (A German representing the Palestinians), track and fielder Mohammed Abukhousa and track and fielder Mayada Al-Sayad, who did meet the professional requirements set by the Olympics.


But while the chances of seeing one of them atop a podium are slim, a young man from Hebron named Mohammed al-Khatib has kept his eye on the prize in the sprinting events.


“I have a dream to bring Palestine its first medal in the 100 and 200-meter dashes,” shared al-Khatib, whose wish wish for gold made him take actions: after coming to the conclusion that he cannot find an adequate training facility within his vicinity, al-Khatib started an online crowdfunding campaign aimed to raise enough money to send him to Houston. The campaign worked, and al-Khatib was able to move there for his training.


“I realized that I can’t wait for someone to give me a chance,” he said. “I can make my own opportunity.”


פרסום ראשון: 08.01.16, 13:16
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