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History

Past and present famous Jewish Olympians:

 

David Jacobs was a British sprinter who competed at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. He competed in the 100m and 200m sprint races but was eliminated in the semi-finals of both. However, in the 4 x 100m relay race of the same Games, in which Jacobs ran the first leg, the British team triumphed, beating the favourite German team, although only after the USA were disqualified after the race ended.

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Harold Abrahams was a British sprinter and long-jumper. Although his career was ended prematurely by injury in 1925 at just 25 years old, he had a very successful career, particularly in sprinting. In the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris he won the 100m Sprint, equalling the Olympic Record, which inspired the film Chariots of Fire. He also qualified for the final of the 200m Sprint, and won a silver medal with the British 4x100m Relay team in 41.2 seconds, a British record which stood for 28 years. In the long jump he set three English records in 1923-24. After his career ended, he spent many years as a sports administrator, journalist, broadcaster, historian and statistician. He was appointed Chairman of the British Amateur Athletic Board (BAAB) in 1963 and President of the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) in 1976. He was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame 1981.

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Mark Spitz was an American swimmer, considered by many to be the greatest ever swimmer. In 1971, he became the first swimmer to win four individual Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles in one meet, which he won again the following week, setting four world records. After winning the 1971 Sullivan Award, he competed at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, winning seven gold medals, all in world record time – a feat only surpassed in 2008 by Michael Phelps. Overall he won 24 AAU titles, eight National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles while at Indiana University, eleven Olympic medals, nine of which were gold, and set a total of 32 world records. He was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Dara Torres was an American swimmer with the longest successful career of any Olympic swimmer in history. She has won a total of twelve Olympic medals spanning five Olympic Games and 24 years (1984-2008), including four gold medals. She set world records at the Barcelona 1992 and Sydney 2000 Games. At the 2008 Beijing Games she became the oldest ever Olympic swimmer at 41 years old, and won a silver medal in the 50m Freestyle, defeated by just 1/100th of a second. She is one of only three Olympians to win four medals of every colour, and she lacks only the gold in an individual event. She was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame  in 2005.

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Brad Gilbert was an American tennis player. His Olympic career amounted to just one men’s singles bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. However, after retiring from his playing career in 1995, he has gone on to coach some of the all-time greats of tennis – he coached Andre Agassi from 1994-2002 during which time Agassi won six grand slam titles and an Olympic gold medal and achieved a #1 world ranking; and he also coached Andy Roddick to the US Open title in 2003 and a world #1 ranking. He also coached Britain’s Andy Murray from 2006-2008.

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Lenny Krayzelburg was an American swimmer who emigrated to the USA from Ukraine in 1989. He won three Olympic gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Games, setting two Olympic records including one world record, and won another gold at the 2004 Athens Games. He was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Jason Lezak is an American swimmer. He won a total of seven Olympic medals including four gold medals at Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004 and two in Beijing in 2008. He was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. He also plans to compete at the London 2012 Games.

Click here for more information about Jason Lezak.

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