Iran Snubs Israel at Youth Olympics, Pulls Out of Competition
Israeli athletes won big on Sunday, with a young Israeli taekwondo fighter taking gold at the Youth Olympics in Singapore while swimmer Gal Nevo won Israel's second medal in the European Swimming Championship in Hungary.
Taekwondo winner Gili Haimovitz, 17, won gold by default after his Iranian opponent in the finals, Mohammed Soleimani, withdrew from the match. Iranian officials claimed that Soleimani had been injured and was so ill that he could not even stand on the podium with Haimovitz for the awards ceremony.
Israel accused the Iranian team of withdrawing for political reasons. Similar incidents have occurred in past athletic events: an Iranian judo athlete refused to fight an Israeli in the 2004 Olympics, and an Iranian swimmer dropped out of a race in the Beijing Olympics in which an Israeli was to compete, allegedly due to illness,
Daniel Oren of the Israeli delegation told reporters that it was “very exciting” to see an Israeli win a gold medal, but added, “We would prefer winning by competing.”
In Hungary, Israel's Guy Nevo took the bronze medal in the 400-meter individual medley. Nevo had previously taken fourth place in the mixed 200-meter race.
Last week Guy Barnea won the bronze medal in the 50-meter back stroke.