An Israeli teen took a gold medal last week at the Special Olympic Games in a judo competition, an accomplishment which he said he owes to the cruel bullies that pushed him to the edge.
Nir Abelson, a 12-year-old judoka from Be'er Sheva, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder earlier in life, yet has clinched the first place in the international competition, which hosted over 400 athletes and 11 countries.
"I'm proud to represent the country and bring such great victories," said Abelson. "I thank everyone who has been with me along the way that have helped me turn what was for me a dream - into reality."
After winning the national judo contest several weeks prior, Abelson shared that his passion for the sport was of a result of being bullied by his classmates. "I wanted to defend myself. It started as half hobby, half self defense against kids that would vex me. I started to love it and train, and it turned from a hobby to a way of life."
Avi Agar, the coach of the Israeli judo team at the Games, which includes three more athletes, said he was proud to manage such talented judokas. "I came with a group of four young and talented athletes that train non-stop. They represented Israel with honor."
All four of Agar's judo trainees won gold and bronze metals. Amongst them, 14-year-old Shilo Omer, who won a total of three metals - one gold and two bronze. "The contest's organizers were very impressed by his talent," said Agar, "they see a bright future for him in the field".
In an exclusive interview with Ynet, Agar said: "I represented the country with great honor, and I hope to continue working hard and bringing victories to Israel".