Moran Samuel turned in her best performance yet at her third Paralympics, winning a rowing silver medal in Tokyo at the Women’s 2000-meter single sculls.
This continued a steady pattern of bigger and greater achievements for Team Israel’s rowing standout as Samuel debuted with a fifth place finish in London 2012 and earned a bronze at Rio 2016.
Samuel, who identifies as lesbian, finished with a time of 11:18.39, giving her second place on the medal podium behind Norway’s Birgit Skarstein.
Despite the distance she traveled, Samuel’s family was never far from her mind. Her cheering section included wife Limor Samuel Goldberg and children Arad and Rom. In fact, they served as a major source of inspiration for her performance.
“I promised my children that Mom would be coming home with a medal,” Samuel revealed to Israel’s Radio103 FM. “It was a tough morning in the rowing site with winds that wanted to prevent us from breaking a world record. But it was a good race with a good result.”
What’s more, her silver medal followed a thrilling moment for her at the Opening Ceremony when she was chosen to be one of Israel’s flag bearers.
With her Paralympics success in rowing, it’s hard to believe that the sport was not Samuel’s first love. She began her athletic career as a member of the Israeli National Women’s Basketball Team but suffered a spinal stroke in 2006 that led to paralysis at age 24.
Her family stepped in at a time when she needed them most. When Samuel began looking to compete in a solo sport, Goldberg suggested she try rowing in 2010. As future events would soon underscore, it’s proven to be a great choice.
With her second Paralympics medal, Samuel is a major representative of both her country and LGBTQ athletes on the world stage. It’s worth noting that while Israel is more progressive in terms of LGBTQ rights than other Middle Eastern countries, there is still more work to be done.
For instance, while Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed abroad and LGBTQ citizens can serve in government and the military, it has not legalized LGBTQ marriages within its borders. On the plus side, though, Israel’s Supreme Court recently ruled it legal for same-sex couples to have children with the aid of a surrogate.
It’s also worth nothing that Israeli President Isaac Herzog enthusiastically congratulated Samuel.
And if her pattern holds true, Moran’s next Paralympics medal could be her most prestigious one of all.