Born in Karkur, near Hadera, Israel, on the 16th September, 1975, Gal
Fridman started sailing at age 6 or 7 and racing at age 11, and his interest
in sailing and windsurfing has been a family one. His father, Uri Fridman,
has been his inspiration and coached him for many years in his amateur
and professional career; his uncle of nearby Kibbutz Sdot Yam also helped
him; his mother Dganit says she is his keenest supporter; his brother
Yuval accompanied him to the Athens Olympics.
Gal became a member of the Sdot Yam Sailing Club at a young age. He
attended the Ort School in Binyamina, where he took matriculation in 1993.
His earliest international competitions were in the youth categories during
his school years (1989, 1991), after which served in the IDF and began
competing in the adult categories. His current trainer is Gur Steinberg.
In 1996, Gal won an Olympic bronze medal for windsurfing, and was named
Israeli Sportsman of the Year. In 2003, he won the Mistral World Championship
in Pattaya, Thailand. He did not, however, participate in the Sydney 2000
Olympics, due to illness; during his convalescence he began mountain biking,
and returned to regular training and competition in 2001, climbing back
to the top. In retrospect, it is not only a superb comeback, but a culmination
of strategy and good training: his mountain bike training can be seen
to have contributed considerably to his rhythmic style and sustained strength
in competitive windsurfing.
Gal Fridman returned to the Olympic team for the Athens Olympics in
the Windsurfing/Mistral class, and entered with determination, ambition,
and high hopes of winning a gold medal. Following his consistently top-10,
or outstanding performances in the first 10 sections of the Mistral events,
Israel watched with baited breath as he went into the eleventh leg of
the race. He finished second in the final leg of race on Wednesday 25th
August, but with the highest overall place, thus becoming Israel's first
ever Olympic Gold Medallist [Athens 2004] and Israel's sixth Olympic medallist.
The award ceremony resounded to the roar of enthusiastic supporters' singing
Hatikvah, the first time it has been played at the Olympics. [Israel has
been competing in the Olympics since 1952 and Yael Arad was Israel's first
Olympic medallist, winning the silver as a judoka.]
An ecstatic and exhausted Gal Fridman acknowledged his supporters from
and in Israel; in his shy and modest comments on winning first place and
on returning to Israel, he dedicated his medal to the memory of the 11
Israeli athletes assassinated by members of the Black September organization,
during the Munich Olympics (1972). Beijing awaits...
Written and compiled by: Gila Ansell Brauner with Sandra Michaelovsky
Haaretz Reports and picture gallery
Prime Minister Sharon congratulates Olympic Medallist Gal Fridman 25th
International competition placings
Dedicated pages with photo gallery, competitive achievements since 1989,
write-in page to Gal, links
or print version on
[ Zionist Century]