The Paralympic Committee and the Association for Disabled Sports announced this evening (Sunday) the outstanding athletes for 2022 and awarded the Paralympic Committee decoration to those who have contributed for years to the promotion of Paralympic sports in Israel.
A particularly exciting moment was recorded during the awarding of the 'Breakthrough of the Year' award to the young tennis player Maayan Zikri, who qualified for the 21st place in the world this year and entered the bronze squad.
The sign was given to Maayan by the widow, father and daughters of the late kayak coach Barak Lufen, who was murdered in the murderous attack that happened in April on Dizingoff Street in Tel Aviv. The late Barak, throughout his years as a coach and athlete, was looking for new talents and supported young athletes.
The awarding of the 'Breakthrough of the Year' award will now become an annual tradition and perpetuate Barak's memory.
The outstanding young athlete was the swimmer Ariel Maliar, a member of Ilan Haifa who reached the finals of the world championship held in Portugal.
Kayak rower Talia Eilat from Beit HaLochem, Tel Aviv, who came sixth in the European Championships and seventh in the World Championships held in Canada, was chosen as the Young Athlete of the Year.
The girls of the goalball team, members of Beit HaLochem Tel Aviv and the affiliates of an educational institution for the blind, who won the bronze medal at the world championship held in Portugal, received the badge of team achievement. Their coach, Raz Shoham, who led them to the bronze medal, was chosen as coach of the year.
The athlete of the year is the swimmer Ami Dedown, from Ilan Haifa, who won three gold medals at the World Championships held in Portugal.
The athlete of the year is shooter Yulia Chernoi from Beit HaLohm Tel Aviv who won a bronze medal at the World Championships held in the United Arab Emirates and has already secured her place in Paris.
The Paralympic Committee's decoration was awarded to Dr. Shoki Dekel, who served as chairman of the Paralympic Committee in 2017-2021 and led many initiatives and activities for the sake of the athletes, including the establishment of a scientific and technological unit, the expansion of collaborations with various bodies and the participation of an Israeli athlete for the first time ever in the Winter Games.
Another decoration was given to James Richardson, for significant support to the Paralympic Committee for over a decade, and in the process, accompanying and financing various activities, such as tennis competitions over the years and the World Tennis Championship held in Israel.
The letter was received on behalf of the company by the Honorary Chairman of the Paralympic Committee, Andrew Danos from my husband James Richardson.
Minister of Culture and Sports Miki Zohar: "Our Paralympic athletes inspire us all and prove that any mountain can be climbed."
The medals and honor they bring to Israel in the world are only a small sign of the enormous respect we acquire for them for their pursuit of excellence and success against difficulties and obstacles.'
Photographs: Oren Aharoni
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