Donald Sanford made history when he became the first Israeli to win a sprint medal at the European
athletics championships — one he dedicated to the IDF.
Sanford won the 400metres bronze in Zurich, denying Great Britain a 123 finish, with a new Israeli record of 45.27secs, breaking the 45.39secs he had set in the semi-final.
As he ran into the final straight he was only in fifth position and a repeat of the 2012 championships looked on the cards, where he finished fourth.
But he overtook Britain’s Conrad Smith and Poland’s Jakub Krzewina to finish third behind Britain’s Martyn Rooney and Matt Hudson-Smith.
He said: "I didn’t think I would break the record again in the final, but I felt good and my legs felt good. I
executed the race exactly as I planned and it worked. For most of the race I was looking at my rivals’ backs.
But I put everything into that final 100 metres and I’m so happy. I so much wanted that medal for myself, for my family, for Israel and all the soldiers who have been so heroic so that I can train peacefully.
"This is my first-ever medal in a major championship, thanks to my great coaches and a lot of hard work."
Sanford, 27, is also only the second Israeli to win a medal after Russian immigrant Alex Averbukh won gold in the pole vault in 2002 and 2006. USA-born Sanford took Israeli citizenship three years ago after marrying basketball player Danielle Dekel.
There was a major disappointment when women’s triple jumper Hanna Knyazeva-Minenko pulled out with a muscle strain, but high jumper Maayan Shahaf-Forman finished 14th in the final after she failed all three of her attempts to jump 1.90 metres.
In the marathon, Berihun Wuve, Yamaharan Yosef and Amir Ramon all finished in the last 10 of the 50 runners but Zohar Zimron pulled up early.