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Israeli Paralympic Committee chief expects great Paralympics
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Dani Ben Abu, Chairman of Israeli Paralympic Committee, expressed his belief in an interview with Xinhua Tuesday that the upcoming Beijing Paralympic games will be as great as Beijing Olympics.

"The Chinese government did an excellent organization work during the Olympic Games and Chinese people were so friendly to guests from all around the world, I believe that China will do their best in the Paralympic games, too." said the chairman.

The Israeli delegation for Beijing Paralympics, which left for Beijing this week, comprises 42 athletes and 15 coaches. They will compete in swimming, shooting, table tennis, rowing, tennis, archery, basketball, equestrian, track and field, sailing and cycling.

Four years ago, Israeli players won four gold, four silver and five bronze medals at Athens Paralympic Games. This year, Ben Abu hopes that the Israeli athletes could do their best to make the Israeli flag hoisted frequently to the rhythm of Hatikva (Israeli national anthem) in Beijing.

However, he stressed that the spirit of participation is more important than competition.

"I do expect we can get two or three gold medals in swimming or shooting, but it doesn't matter if we failed to achieve the goal," said Ben Abu, adding "what really matters is the tremendous efforts our disabled athletes have made in sports as well as in their daily life."

According to Ben Abu, among the Israeli athletes, there are disabled veterans, victims of terror attacks and traffic accidents, and people with congenital deformities. Being handicapped himself, Ben Abu, 55, was wounded in the Middle East war in 1973 and then became a disabled athlete in surfing and sailing.

"I thank god either the good thing or the bad one, my only wish is that no one have to participate in the Paralympics because he suffered from a terror attack or a war." he said.

On Thursday, Ben Abu will fly to Beijing, where he will join the Israeli delegation and stay for 10 days. Recalling his last two visits to China, the chairman said he was deeply impressed by China's significant change in recent years, not only because of the highly modernized cities but also because of the vigorous Chinese people he met.

"The hospitality of the Chinese people left me a lot of good memories." said Ben Abu.

(Xinhua News Agency September 3, 2008)

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