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July 22, 2014 / 24 Tammuz, 5774
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From Fighter Pilot to Gold Medalist

Noam Gershony at the U.S. Open in July 2011.

Noam Gershony at the U.S. Open in July 2011.
Photo Credit: Robbiesaurus

Noam Greshuny’s story is one of triumph of the spirit.

Six years after being critically wounded during the Second Lebanon War, Gershuny won a gold medal at the Paralympics Games in London playing tennis, beating the number-one ranking player, American David Wagner 6:3, 6:1.

During the second week of the Second Lebanon War, on July 20th, two Apache helicopters on their way to an operation in Lebanon collided over Israel’s northern border. One pilot, Major Ran kochbah was killed immediately. The second pilot, Gershuny, was critically wounded. He spent months in rehabilitation, during which he discovered his love for tennis.

Six years later he made it to the top, bringing Israel its first gold medal from the London Paralympics Games and the first ever in tennis. His family and friends were at the game to support him.

When Greshuny ascended the podium to receive the medal and heard Israel’s national anthem HaTikvah playing in the background he was overcome by his emotions, shedding a tear.

Afterwards, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the 29-year-old athlete to congratulate him, telling him “you symbolize the victory of the human spirit over the difficulties created by the reality in which we live.”

President Shimon Peres contacted Gershuny as well, saying, “You have proved that you are good on the court as well as you are in the sky.”

When Gershuny was interviewed by IDF radio he said, “I don’t know if it had an affect on me, the fact that I was wounded for the country, giving my life and body for her. I would do it all over again, even if I knew that this would be the outcome. This may have made me happier, the fact that I am able to bring so much pride to the country.”

About the Author: Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.


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