Yulia Karra
June 10

Swimmer Adam Maraana last week made history by becoming the first Arab Israeli athlete to represent Israel at the Olympics in 48 years.

Maraana, 20, qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics in the 100-meter backstroke event during the Olympic trials held at the Wingate Institute in Netanya on June 6.

Clocking in at 53.60 seconds, Maraana equaled the Israeli national record set by Yakov Toumarkin in 2017. The result was a fourteenth of a second faster than the qualifying time for the 2024 Olympics

Maraana said he “surprised himself” with the result, and that he was “very happy” with the qualification. 

This qualification represents one of the athlete’s most significant wins in recent months. Last year Maraana came in third in the 50-meter backstroke category at the European Under-23 Swimming Championship in Dublin, and finished fourth in the 100-meter backstroke in the same championship. 

The third Arab Israeli in history

Maraana lives in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, a city with a large Arab community that has been a beacon of coexistence in the past few decades. The swimmer is a son of an Arab father and Russian mother, both of whom are Israeli citizens. 

Maraana is only the third Arab Israeli athlete in history to represent Israel at the Olympics. The most recent before him was soccer player Rifaat Turk, who was part of the Israeli team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The first in history is weightlifter Eduard Meron, who represented Israel at the 1960 Rome Olympics. 

Meanwhile, the representation of Arab Israelis at the Paralympic Games has been more prominent in recent years. 

At the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, swimmer Iyad Shalabi won two gold medals, while golfball player Elham Mahmid Rosin captained the team in his discipline. 

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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