20 year old Itai Salman and 23 year old Gal Harel have both completed the 10km Tel Aviv marathon recording personal best times. This is a tremendous accomplishment for both athletes who only started training for the race last October. Never before have athletes from Special Olympics Israel competed in long distance running so it is a hugely significant and historic achievement not just for the athletes and their coaches but also for the Special Olympics movement in Israel.
Gal Harel competed in bowling at the World Summer Games 2011 in Athens but afterwards she wanted to take up a new sport as a challenge. She started walking at first with her father, who is also her trainer, and gradually built up her stamina and running ability. They trained together at least four times a week and the results are obvious this weekend when Gal completed the Tel Aviv marathon in 1hr and 11mins, a personal best time. Gal plans on running many more marathons and in even longer distances too.
20 year old Itai Salman, was slow to enjoy running in the beginning but after only a short while training twice a week with his father he gained the confidence and ability to excel in the sport. Itai completed the 10k marathon in just under 50 minutes which is an outstanding time and a personal best for him. He now runs regularly with a group of people with intellectual disabilities, including some blind runners and volunteers. Itai, like Gal, has plans to run many more marathons.
Congratulations to Gal and Itai and to their families and coaches in Special Olympics for an outstanding achievement. The 2012 Tel Aviv Marathon was the biggest of its history involving more than 25,000 runners.