Swimmer Inbal Pezaro, 29, of Kibbutz Yizre’el was hoping for another medal in the 100-meter freestyle race in the Rio Paralympic Games on Saturday, but came in fifth at 1:24:04, after having won a bronze medal with a time of 3.37.62 and a spectacular finish in the last 50 meters of the 200 meter individual medley on Friday. This was her ninth Paralympic medal after four silver medals and four bronze medals in previous Games.
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Pezaro’s was Israel’s third medal in the Rio Paralympics, following the bronze medals won by rower Moran Samuel and marksman Doron Shaziri.
Israel’s 33 athletes will be leaving Rio with only these three medals, all of them bronze, its most modest harvest in the history of the Games. At the 1960 Paralympics, even though in those days far fewer medals were awarded, Israel was ranked at 13th place with four medals. In Sidney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008 Israeli delegations won six medals. Now, a day before the Games close, Israel is ranked 72nd in the medal table, the lowest in its history, following the previous low at the Beijing Paralympics in 53rd place.
As has been noted a number of times since these Games began, other countries have advanced in Paralympic sport while Israel – formerly a Paralympic powerhouse, certainly as compared to its achievements in the Olympic Games – will have to consider how much and how it will have to invest in order to narrow the gaps.