Silver-lining as Pezaro makes waves in Beijing

By Simon Griver, September 12, 2008

Israeli swimmer Inbal Pezaro emerged as the country's biggest star in the opening stages of the Paralympics in Beijing.

Pezaro - who was born with a spinal disorder that left her paralysed from the legs down - claimed silver in both the 100 metres and 200 metres freestyle, thus improving on her medal haul in the 2004 Athens Paralympics where she took silver and bronze.

Pezaro, who serves as a volunteer swimming instructor in the IDF, hopes to extend her medal haul when she competes in the 50 metres freestyle and 100 metres breaststroke.

There was also a silver medal for marksman Doron Shaziri in the free rifle 3x40 tournament. The 41-year-old, who was injured by a landmine during army service, has added to his four medals from Atlanta, Sydney and Athens in the shooting events.

Pezaro and Shaziri are among the 42 Israeli sportsmen and women participating in Beijing. Israel is also tipped to win medals in sailing, rowing and table tennis.

The nation's best-known disabled sports star, Keren Leibowitz, who won seven medals in swimming in the Sydney and Athens games, four of them gold, is also expected to feature on the podium in China and is the country's best bet for gold. Leibowitz was left paralysed after injuring her back during army training.

Israel's men's wheelchair basketball team, competing at the event for the first time since 1992, beat China 80-41 and Brazil 73-60 before going down 76-53 to the US.

Last updated: 10:45am, September 11 2008