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July 14, 2016 7:38 am

Granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors Honored to Represent Israel at 2016 Olympic Games


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Golfer Laetitia Beck will represent Israel at the 2016 Olympic Games. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Golfer Laetitia Beck will represent Israel at the 2016 Olympic Games. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Pro golfer Laetitia Beck said she is honored to have been selected to represent Israel at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil largely because of her grandparents, who survived the Holocaust.

“Everywhere I go, I want people to know where I’m from, my background and where my family came from because of the struggle they had to go through,” she told the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). “Every week when I play and I see the Israeli flag, it brings me a lot of pride and I think it’s because of what my grandparents had to go through. Not just them but everybody during World War II and the Holocaust. That brings me anger but what I’m trying to do is bring the anger and do something meaningful.”

Beck, 24, was born in Belgium to a traditional family that observed Shabbat and kept kosher. She said, “For me, it’s very important for people to know first that I am Jewish and that I come from Israel, and then next that I am a golfer.”

Beck moved with her family from Europe to the coastal Israeli town of Caesarea when she was 6. The Caesarea Golf Club, Israel’s only 18-hole golf course, was walking distance from their home, and Beck would practice at the club every day after school. She dabbled in various other sports at the time, but when she was 12, a coach at the club noticed her golfing skills and suggested she compete in the Israeli Open Golf Championship. She ended up winning the competition, and soon afterwards dropped all other sports. At the age of 14, she moved to the US and eventually studied at Duke University.

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A two-time golf gold medalist (2009, 2013) at the Maccabiah Games, and five-time Israeli Open winner, Beck said she loves meeting different people and teaching them about her religion and race. The golfer called the Olympics the “biggest stage” yet for her, adding, “Hopefully, when it comes, I’m not going to be too nervous.”

Beck will walk with Team Israel at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, an experience she said she’s looking forward to.

“That’s a very important part for me. Just being with the team and standing with the Israeli flag when they announce it,” she said. “I don’t think I should carry it right now but in the future, I hope so. I’m so motivated when I see the flag. It brings me a huge smile…that’s a big reason why I do what I do. I want to do something to bring them [her grandparents] pride. I didn’t have to go through what they had to go through. I’m lucky to be where I am. I want to show people where I come from and what they had to go through.”

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