The Israeli tennis delegation will make history at the Special Olympics in Athens this week as two Israeli Arabs represent the country for the first time ever.
Twenty-year old tennis players Muhammad Kunbar of East Jerusalem and Jafar Tawil from Beit Safafa, will go for the gold with Elad Gevandschnaider of Be’er Sheva and Tamir Segal of Katzrin.
Kunbar and Tawil trained at the Israel Tennis Center in Jerusalem for five years. The center released a statement saying that it was an honor that the sport would be part of such a historical moment.
The Special Olympics got underway on June 26 and will run through July 3.
The Special Olympics are different from the Paralympics.
Special Olympics involve athletes from all ability levels who have intellectual disabilities. The Paralympics comprise athletes from six disability groups who compete only on the elite sport level.
“They are a great bunch of young men that enjoy every second they can spend on the court; they appreciate the center and they appreciate the coaches and the efforts of their school,” Ilan Maman, the director of ITC-Jerusalem, told Haaretz.
Some 7,000 athletes from 165 countries are taking part in the Special Olympics in Greece.
For news, features, videos and background information on the athletes, please visit olympics.israel21c.org.