Israel wins first medal at Paralympics by power rower Moran Samuel, in women’s single sculls final.
By ALLON SINAI
Rower Moran Samuel claimed Israel’s first medal at the Rio Paralympics on Sunday, winning a bronze in the arms-shoulders women’s single sculls final.
“A Paralympic medal is so sweet,” said an emotional Samuel. “I really wanted to win a gold medal and to play the national anthem in Rio, but I gave everything I could.”
Samuel began rowing at the Daniel Rowing Center in Tel Aviv six years ago and scaled the top of the podium at last year’s world championships in Aiguebelette, France.
“I left everything out there but there were better rowers than me today,” added Samuel.
Samuel lost sensation from the waist down when she was struck by a rare spinal stroke originating from a congenital disorder back in 2006. She went from being a professional basketball player looking forward to a bright career to a bed at the Beit Levinstein Rehabilitation Center facing a long and arduous rehabilitation process. Samuel ultimately returned to wheelchair basketball before channeling her ambition to rowing.
“I came a long way with coach Paula Grizzetti and now I have a bronze (arad in Hebrew) medal to go with my son who is named Arad,” said Samuel, who had a baby with partner Limor Goldberg last year. “I started off really well and the conditions were in my favor in the first half of the final. Unfortunately, I’m carrying an injury in my left hand over the past six months and the wind here forced me to work really hard with my left hand. It got really tired and I couldn’t use it at the end of the race.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Samuel over the phone.
“This is an unbelievable achievement,” said Netanyahu. “We can’t put into words how proud we are of you. You and your friends represent the Israeli spirit and you are a true hero.”