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Zehava Shmueli: Women’s Leadership Awardee


Zehava Shmueli

Zehava Shmueli

The Women’s Leadership Award was created in 2007 by the European Athletics Development Committee to raise awareness of the issues related to women and leadership in athletics. National recipients were declared for 24 European countries, and the Israeli Athletic Association voted Zehava Shmueli the national winner of this most prestigious award.

This has not been Zehava Shmueli’s first, nor was it her last award. This year the Israeli Athletic Association honored Shmueli at the Israeli Open Championships with the Israeli Women in Sport Award and named her an honorary member of the Association, declaring: “Shmueli exemplifies the spirit of the European Athletics Women’s Leadership Award through her extraordinary athletic records and her current strong community involvement. She has contributed not only to women’s athletics but to all women’s sports in Israel, and for this she is a role model to all.”

Zehava Shmueli represented Israel in a number of World Championships, among them the 1983 Marathon in Helsinki, Finland and the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA where she placed 30th in the Marathon.

Shmueli got her start in running at age 12 when a teacher noticed her natural talent. She competed at a young age but stopped at 17. After marrying and having two children she missed the sport and began to run with a local club two days a week. It only took a year of training for Shmueli to reenter the competitive world. She broke records and won races throughout Israel.

Currently retired from competition, Shmueli lives in Ramat Hasharon where she is still active in the running world. She founded “Runners of Ramat Hasharon,” helping to train athletes for long distance and marathon competitions, and managing all youth athletics in town. The most memorable of all the races Zehava organizes is the “Eyal Race,” one of Israel’s largest running events, in memory of her beloved athletic son, Eyal Shmueli, who tragically collapsed and died of cardiac arrest in June 2001 when he was 27.  A young family member remembers Eyal as a kind, loving soul:  “For my family, the smile he had on his face when he fell told them that his death was that of an angel.” The famous “Eyal Race” is Zehava’s way of coping with her grief.

“I approached Zehava to help me train for the New York City marathon because of her reputation as an exceptional runner and coach,” relates Yitzchaka Jackson who successfully completed her run in this year’s New York City Marathon. “At first Zehava was not that keen to take on a ‘newbie’ runner like me. But after she understood my reason for running this race she got behind the project 100% and helped me make it to the finish line.”  We featured Yitzchaka’s story in our October 28 issue.  Yitzchaka tells us, “While we have received generous donations, we still, unfortunately, fall short of our targeted amount of $42,000. ($1,000. for each of the 42 marathon kilometers).”

”Would you please ask your readers to visit http://www.irunforavi.com/how-to-donate,” Yitzchaka implored. “They can help us complete the mitzvah of Zehava Shmueli’s efforts.”

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