This month marks the 12th anniversary of Gal Fridman becoming the first Israeli ever to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
Gal Fridman, an Israeli Olympic sailor, competed in the Mistral sailing event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The event includes 11 races. Gal won the gold medal over Nikolaos Kaklamanakis of Greece.
Israel won its first medal in 1992, and had won one silver and three bronzes before coming to Athens in 2004. Thus, Fridman’s success meant he became the first Israeli ever to win a gold medal in Olympic competition.
After winning the medal, Fridman said, “It’s a dream come true, it’s unbelievable that I’ve become the first Israeli to win a gold medal. I felt like the whole country was watching me and pushing me from behind.”
Indeed the whole country celebrated Fridman’s success, with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Moshe Katsav calling Fridman to congratulate him.
Fridman dedicated the win to the victims of the darkest moment in Israeli Olympic history, when at the 1972 Munich games, 11 athletes and coaches were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
Fridman still holds the record for being the only Israeli to win an Olympic Gold medal, but since the Athens Games in 2004, Israel has won four bronze medals.
It is hoped that Israel’s success of winning two Bronze medals at the last Olympic Games in Rio will inspire the next generation of Israeli athletes and hopefully lead to more success in 2020.
Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern