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July 26, 1991 - Image 45

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-07-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SPORTS

A game at the Sports Center between Dutch
and Israeli basketball teams.

Sharon Aharoni (I.) and Elish Ezra competed
in regular marathons in Washington, D.C. and
New York.

A special Israeli center uses sports to
give self-confidence to the disabled.

Going For
Spirit
An
Stren

NECHEMIA MEYERS

Special to The Jewish News

he Israel Sports Cen-
ter for the Disabled is
naturally very proud
of its most famous alumnus,
violin virtuoso Itzhak
Perlman. But it is equally
proud of thousands of other
alumni who, against the
most incredible odds, have
become full-fledged mem-
bers of Israeli society.
Sports are not an end in
themselves for center direc-
tor Moshe Rashkes and the
scores of people who help
him, mostly on a volunteer
basis. Instead, they see
sports as a means of build-
ing self-confidence in people
whose missing limbs and
distorted features are apt to
mark them as outcasts.
The confidence-building
begins at a variety of center
installations, where its 2,000
members, who range in age
from 3 to 73, engage in a
wide range of sports.
Sometimes the partici-
pants at the center here,
near Tel Aviv, appear al-

T

Nechemia Meyers writes from
Rehovot, Israel.

most "normal": swimmers,
at least when viewed from a
distance, look pretty much
the same whether they have
legs or they don't. However,
there is no mistaking the
"abnormality" of tennis
players who rush backward
and forward in wheelchairs,
and, in many cases, grasp
their rackets with hands
grotesquely twisted by ill-
ness or heredity.
These players are not ex-
pected to be champions, but
some of them nevertheless
put in championship per-
formances.
Two years ago, for in-
stance, the Israeli team at
the Paralympics in Seoul
won 45 medals — 15 of them
gold — and set six new world
records. The winners did in-
finitely better than did the
able-bodied Israeli sports-
men at the Olympics in Korea
who failed to bring home a
single medal.
That same year, a wheel-
chair team of Israeli
youngsters between the
ages of 10 and 16 won four
gold medals at the Junior
Orange Bowl Sports Ability
Games. And one of them,
center member Ilan Lutki,
was cited as an outstanding

participant in the games.
Ilan, now 12, was born
with a disease that affects
his muscles from the waist
down. As he grows, the up-
per part of his body becomes
stronger while his hips and
legs become weaker. Yet de-
spite this imbalance, he does
very well in the swimming
pool, in the gym and on the
tennis court.
Thanks to his standing in

Lawyer Sharon Huderland was for
a time the only woman on a prize-
winning wheelchair basketball team.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

45

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