July 25, 1973
On July 25, 1973, competitive swimmer Keren Leibovitch was born in Hod Hasharon near Tel-Aviv. Considered Israel’s greatest Paralympian, Leibovitch won four gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal in Paralympic swimming competitions in 2000 and 2004. The Paralympic games are an international sporting event for athletes with disabilities. The event occurs every four years and is held in the same city as the Olympics. Leibovitch was also the winner of three World Championships and five European Championship gold medals.
Leibovitch began swimming when she was two, but was paralyzed from the waist down when she was eighteen while training to be an IDF officer. During a training drill, she was carrying a heavy load which caused her back to nearly break. Atlhough she had trained professionally before her injury, she did not begin to compete until after her injury. While swimming as part of her rehabilitation, Leibovitch was spotted by a coach who encouraged her to begin training competitively.
In a 2005 interview, Leibovitch said her inspiration came from her single mother and grandmother, stating, “My mom brought us up on her own; my parents were divorced when I was six. My grandmother helped her, but my dad wasn’t involved. Twenty-five years ago it wasn’t that casual for a woman to bring up her children by herself. She taught me to fend for yourself and speak up for what you want, and be able to get your way.”
A mother of four, Leibovitch was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. Although she missed the 2012 games in London because she was recovering from an injury, she is planning to compete in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.