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August 17, 2012 11:01 am

Paralympics Offer Israeli Athletes a Shot at Redemption

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (center-left) and Sports Minister Limor Livnat (center-right) with Israel's Paralympic team. Photo: Culture and Sports Ministry.

25 athletes representing Israel will be competing at the Paralympic Games in London, following a disappointing performance for Israeli athletes at the Summer Olympics where no athlete took home a medal.

“We were one of the best teams during the 1970s and 1980s,” said Ron Bolotin, the secretary-general of the Israel Paralympic Committee. “Israel was one of the pioneer nations so we had a beginner’s advantage.  Secondly, because we have a lot of army disabled, we have very high quality sport facilities for rehabilitation.”

The Paralympics first took place in London – where they will be held this year – 64 years ago, and were created through the vision of a German-Jewish man named Dr Ludwig Guttmann.

Expectations are high for the Israeli team, according to Bolotin, who himself swam as a Paralympic athlete.

“We hope at least to get the same result as four years ago – and maybe a little bit more,” he said.  Israel won 6 medals at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Before leaving for London, the team was greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“What you demand of yourselves, nobody demands of you,” he said.  “I hope that you bring home medals – but from my point of view, you already have.”

Israel hosted the third Paralympic Games in Tel Aviv in 1968.

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