'Most decorated' gymnast Raisman shows Jewish pride

By Marcus Dysch, August 8, 2012

The London Olympics' most decorated Jewish athlete has said the poignancy of winning two gold medals on the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre made the success more special.

Gymnast Aly Raisman will return to the United States after wowing audiences with her performances, which also won her a bronze medal.

Her gold-winning display in Tuesday's individual floor competition was accompanied by the playing of Hava Nagila – the 18-year-old's favourite track, which she also used in last week's team competition, the first of her gold medal displays.

"I am Jewish, that's why I wanted that floor music," Ms Raisman told the New York Post. "I wanted something the crowd could clap to, especially being here in London. That was really cool and fun to hear the audience clapping."

Before arriving in London, Ms Raisman had backed the campaign to encourage the IOC to hold a minute's silence at the opening ceremony.

After her win in the individual competition she acknowledged the significance of her success coinciding with the anniversary.

"The fact it was on the 40th anniversary is special, and winning the gold means a lot to me.

"If there had been a moment's silence I would have supported it and respected it."

Ms Raisman grew up in Massachusetts and her family are members of the Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre, near Boston.

Rabbi Keith Stern, spiritual leader of the Reform community, said Ms Raisman was "focused" in her determination to succeed.

"She's very proud and upfront about being Jewish. Neither she nor her family explicitly sought to send a message. But it shows how very integrated her Jewish heritage is in everything that she does," he told the American newspaper. "I can't wait to have her at the temple to talk about her experience."

The community is expected to join the family to celebrate Ms Raisman's sister's upcoming batmitzvah.

Last updated: 11:41am, August 9 2012