Israel’s national running team took the gold for the men’s group marathon on Monday at the European Athletics Championships in Munich, Germany.
In a remarkable achievement, two days from his 30th birthday, Ethiopian-born Israeli Marhu Teferi took home the silver in the individual runners’ competition, with a time of 2:10.24 – almost three minutes faster than his 2020 time 2:13:02 – the best ever Olympic run by an Israeli marathoner. Last February, he also set a new Israeli marathon record of 2:06.58.
At Monday’s Championships, Teferi’s teammate Gashau Ayale, 26, finished the race moments behind him, claiming the bronze with a time of 2:10.29. Overall, four Israeli runners finished Monday’s race in the top 10.
The two marathoners, who ran with Israeli teammates Omer Ramon, 25; Yimer Getahun, 30; and Girmaw Amare, 34, were in the lead in the late stages of the race. At one point, after the 35th kilometer (out of 42), four of the seven leading runners were Israeli.
The European Athletics Championships are viewed as a major milestone in preparation for the Olympics.
“I am very excited, since Munich is a special place,” Teferi said. “I am very happy that we represented the country with honor. We won the gold medal, and I won the silver one in the individual competition.”
During the competition’s awards ceremony, the Israeli national anthem “HaTikvah” played over the speakers – poignant, given that, this year, the city will mark the 50th anniversary since the Palestinian massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
During the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, on Sept. 5, Palestinian terrorist group Black September scaled the walls of the Olympic Village and took the members of the Israeli team hostage, killing 11 athletes and training staff, as well as a West German police officer.
“After everything that [took] place here in Munich 50 years ago, it is a special thing to go back and achieve a victory,” Teferi said. “From the beginning, I felt that we had a clear plan for the run that our coach made for us, and we followed it.”
Teferi made aliyah, immigrated to Israel, from Ethiopia at age 14, along with his parents and six brothers and sisters (three other siblings remained in Ethiopia).
The Jewish state saw another accomplishment on the track in June, when Kenyan-born Israeli long-distance runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, 33, qualified for the world’s top 10 female marathon runners.
Chemtai Salpeter won bronze in the World Athletics Championships women’s marathon in Eugene, Oregon, with a time of 2:20:18. Her blockbuster life story brought her to Israel from Kenya in 2008.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.