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  Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 19:22 GMT 20:22 UK
Averbukh seals poignant win
Israel's Alex Averbukh shed tears at the medal ceremony
Averbukh shed tears at the medal ceremony


Alex Averbukh dedicated his pole vault victory to his country after winning Israel's first medal in the history of the European Athletics Championships.

Averbukh's triumph in the pole vault was an emotional moment as it came in the city where 11 Israelis lost their lives in a terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympics.

The 27-year-old, who emigrated from Russia to Israel in 1999, punched his fists as he fell on to the mat after clearing 5.85 metres.


I want to give a little present to the Israeli people because the news from there is not so good
Alex Averbukh

Germans Lars Borgeling and Tim Lobinger both vaulted 5.80m, with Borgeling taking silver ahead of his team-mate on countback.

Averbukh shed tears at the medal ceremony as the Israeli national anthem played and the crowd stood in silence.

"When I heard the anthem on the medal podium of course I thought of 1972, but I think it is better to look to the future," said Averbukh, who lost his father in December.

"I dedicate this medal to my father and to the people of Israel.

"I want to give a little present to the Israeli people because the news from there is not so good."

Averbukh received a congratulatory call from Israel's foreign minister Shimon Peres after his victory.

He and the 16 other Israeli athletes at the championships will join relatives of the victims of 1972 at a memorial ceremony outside the Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

The Israelis are staying at the Olympic village for the first time since Palestinian terrorists stormed an apartment house there.

Two Israeli athletes were killed and nine held hostage in an attempt to gain the freedom of 200 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

In a botched rescue attempt the hostages were killed, along with five terrorists and a German policeman.


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