Two Generations of Athletes Emerge From Judea and Samaria
Noad Lahat and Bat El Geterer are known for their achievements in international sports competitions, and are today considered veteran athletes in their respective sports. Lahat, a 27-year-old from Alfei Menasheh in Samaria, won a gold metal in the 2010 Jiu Jitsu World Championship held in California while Geterer, aged 23, grew up in Cochav Yaacov, and is today a European Taekwondo Champion.
Lahat began his career at the age of 6 and when he joined the IDF, he refused to receive exemption from service, as other Israeli athletes do, since he wanted to serve in a combat unit. He joined the Paratroopers, and returned to his sports career after three years of service. During a trip to Brazil he became acquainted with the Brazilian version of Jiu Jitsu, a fairly common sport there. After years of grueling training, Noad earned the gold medal in California. “For this I worked so hard”, he said, as he descended from the podium.
Geterer is a religious young woman who lives in Jerusalem. She is a student at Hebrew University, working on a bachelors degree in physical education and mathematics, and is relatively young, yet she has succeeded in obtaining several titles in Europe. In 2010 she won the gold medal at the St. Petersburg tournament – the first Israeli to achieve such success there. In 2008 she was a member of the Israeli delegation to the Beijing Olympics, and today is considered a veteran sportswoman on the Israeli national team.
There are great expectations for their success in the upcoming London Olympics this summer. Shachar Sagy and Yuval Freilich have performed well in international competitions, despite their young age.
Yuval Freilich, aged 16 from Neve Daniel is a young fencer who won the gold medal at the European Championship in Austria last February, and Sagy, a 16-year-old who lives in Shaked in Northern Samaria, won a silver medal at the Judo matches that took place in Luxemburg in November.
These athletes, like all athletes, experience ups in downs in their careers. During periods of crises, it is important for athletes to be surrounded by supportive people and a positive atmosphere that gives them the strength to continue and compete. This exact atmosphere can be found in the communal settlements in Judea and Samaria. “It’s great to feel the support, its great to feel that you are a role model for others. Truly, for better or for worse, I have never heard a negative word about me here. They have always supported me and told me that for them I will always be a champion, no matter what,” Fogy said. “For me that is very comforting.”
All these athletes are residents of Judea and Samaria. What is special about this area that draws people to live there? “Unlike the big cities of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, here, there is a stronger sense of a community. Things are calmer and quieter. My parents were looking for something small, more tight-knit and religious”, Freilich explained.
Freilich was born in Israel, a son of immigrants from Australia. His family went back to Australia for five years, and returned to Israel in 2004. Yuval began to train as a fencer after being exposed to the Sydney Olympics and is the first Israeli to receive a medal as a cadet. How does he cope with such an achievement? “I hope there will be many more Israeli athletes who will receive medals in international competitions. Maybe my accomplishment will encourage others. I am glad. What is important about sports is that if there is any measure of success, you need to set it aside. You need to be focused on what you will do in the future, and not on what you have done in the past” Yuval answerd modestly.
Shachar Sagy’s success in Luxemburg was the most significant for an Israeli sportswomen in recent years. “There are many excellent and accomplished sportswomen in Israel. I am happy I was able to get the points and the medal. It is important for me to point out that the girls give a real fight abroad,” she said.
Yesha (Judea and Samaria) council spokesman Roni Arazi stated: “I congratulate these outstanding athletes who join those who excel in education, volunteering, the industry and enlistment to the IDF, who live throughout Judea and Samaria and who represent the municipalities of the vicinity with great honor, in Israel and abroad. It’s pleasant to witness how with every crown of national pride which is bestowed upon the residents of Judea and Samaria, the extreme left wing minority encounter a growing difficulty to sabotage the spirit of the settlement enterprise”.