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Sapiro swims to trio of Maccabiah medals
- Updated: August 1, 2013
Paralympic swimmer Shireen Sapiro scooped gold and two silver medals for South Africa at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel last week.
Sapiro, who won the 100-metre backstroke gold in the S10 category in Beijing five years ago, repeated her triumph over the same distance in 1min 11.93sec at the Wingate Institute of Sport in Netanya on 24 July.
The University of Johannesburg student added to her Maccabiah achievements with second place in both the 50m and 100m freestyle events.
It was the first time that the international Games, which are commonly referred to as ÔÇ£the Jewish OlympicsÔÇØ, included an official Paralympic component.
Sapiro, who has severe muscle dysfunction on the left side of her body following a water-skiing accident nine years ago, said it was a significant step in the development of sport for people with disabilities. ÔÇ£It’s amazing for development in disabled sport, for Israel and the Jewish moment. I feel so lucky to be a part of it.ÔÇØ
The Krugersdorp resident proved she was more than a match for the able-bodied swimmers at the previous Games in 2009, when she competed in the open category. She claimed silver in the 100m backstroke and was also part of SA’s bronze medal-winning relay team.
ÔÇ£I swim against anyone. I see myself as a swimmer and an athlete ÔÇô who I compete against isn’t that important,ÔÇØ said Sapiro. ÔÇ£What matters most to me is if it challenges me and makes me a better swimmer.ÔÇØ
The 22-year-old said the Games had been an important part of her final preparations for the IPC World Swimming Championships, which start in Montreal, Canada, on 12 August. ÔÇ£I was really happy with my performances because I now feel like I’m on track for worlds.ÔÇØ
Sapiro has been on good form since the London Olympics last year, where she took third place in her signature backstroke event. She said her Paralympic medals had definitely been the highlights of her career to date. ÔÇ£There’s no better feeling than being able to stand on a Paralympic podium and seeing the South African flag being raised.ÔÇØ
The first-year journalism student said juggling her full-time studies and training schedule was certainly challenging but that she was determined to work hard and succeed in all areas. ÔÇ£UJ has been amazing with physio and gym programmes, and in assisting me with my studies. It’s been great working with everyone at the university ÔÇô they really help me where I need it.ÔÇØ
She said her career goal was to become a journalist and make a difference in disabled sport. ÔÇ£I believe I will be able to touch many lives through the media. I also want to swim at one more Paralympics ÔÇô then it’s time to live life outside the world of swimming.ÔÇØ