Tel Aviv 1968: Israel celebrates 50 years

Athletes from the past join the present to remember home Games

two people in wheelchairs seated next to two people standing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (second left) meets Para athletes Doron Shaziri, Ami Dadaon and Pascale Bercovitch © • Mark Neyman

Israeli heroes from the past were brought back to celebrate 50 years since the Tel Aviv 1968 Paralympic Games during a ceremony in Jerusalem.

On 4 December, a month since the 1968 Paralympics Opening Ceremony, the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of Israel honoured the Para athletes who made their home Games memorable. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was the guest of honour.

"I have to admit that sometimes I ask myself how you do it, how can you?” Rivlin said. “How do you have the power? But it turns out that every step moves the next step, every decision generates the next, and every victory wins the next."

A major upset win over the US men’s wheelchair basketball team remains a lasting memory for the host nation from 1968. Tuesday’s occasion saw some of the stars of that gold medal win involved in the celebrations, including Baruch Hagai and coach Reuven Heller. They were joined by Zipora Rubin-Rosenbaum who was part of the women’s team that also captured gold.

The 50-year anniversary also brought together the past and the present.

Eight-time Paralympic shooting medallists Doron Shaziri and double European Para swimming champion Ami Dadaon, lit the Menorah with the Rivlin to for the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.

"You are the Maccabees (heroes) of our generation, thank you for coming, happy Hanukkah,” Rivlin said.

The event was also attended by NPC Israeli Chairman Dr. Shuki Dekel; Deputy Director of the Sports Administration Avi Benvenisti; Chairman of the Israel Association for Children with Disabilities (ILAN) Ehud Ratzabi; Director General of the Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans Organisation Haim Ronen; among others.