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Israeli-Arab Swimmer Iyad Shalabi Wins Gold Medal in Paralympics

Israeli-Arab swimmer Iyad Shalabi picked up the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke on the first day of the Paralympic Games on Wednesday, finishing in 2 minutes, and 28.4 seconds.

Shalabi, 34, who grew up Muslim in Shfaram, was born deaf and was later paralyzed in his lower body following an accident at the age of 13.

This is the first medal ever for an Israeli-Arab in an Olympic or Paralympic setting, according to KAN, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation.

Shalabi’s coach, Yaakov Benenson, responded to the win with tears. “I am very excited and happy that he won the gold medal. This is his fourth Olympics. He always finished in fourth place, but he kept going.”

Iyad’s father, Yusuf Shalabi, who accompanied his son to Tokyo, stated in an interview, “My heart was pounding. When he overtook his competitor, I cried. He was constantly training. Six years, every day he trains. It’s like a dream.” (JPost / VFI News)

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