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Paralympics: Israeli pilot overcomes crash to win tennis gold

Noam Gershony won gold for Israel yesterday in wheelchair tennis at the London Paralympics. 

By Staff writer / September 9, 2012



Jerusalem

It's too bad more people don't tune into the Paralympics, because they offer really outstanding examples of human triumph – maybe more so than the heavily commercialized Olympic Games.

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Take Noam Gershony, who won gold for Israel yesterday in wheelchair tennis at the London Paralympics. Mr. Gershony, an Apache helicopter pilot, was injured and his co-pilot killed when their craft collided with another helicopter during Israel's 2006 war with Lebanon. After extensive rehabilitation, he took up surfing and wheelchair tennis.

The persistence he displayed in overcoming that ordeal no doubt came in handy during the Paralympic semifinals when he found himself losing to local favorite Jamie Burdekin of Great Britain. As in life, so on the court: He rallied back after the first set to defeat Burdekin – advancing to the finals, where he bested the top-ranked player in the world, David Wagner of the US.

Gershony says he never expected to win gold at the 2012 Paralympics in London, and his modest, almost bashful smile upon wheeling up to the top of the podium said as much. Only one Israeli has ever won gold at the Olympic Games, windsurfer Gal Fridman in 2004. Gershony's gold, though captured on the less-heralded stage of the Paralympics, was much celebrated in the Israeli media this weekend. 

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