Israel's First Internationally Acclaimed Female Athlete
Updated: Mar 15
Today we wish to celebrate one of Israel's greatest female athletes of all time- Esther Roth-Shahamorov.
Esther Shahamorov was born in Tel Aviv on April 16, 1952. She learned in a religious school in the south of the city, and only when she transferred to a secular school, did she begin to realize her athletic potential.
She began training under the guidance of Amitzur Shapira, who would later be known as one of the most important Israeli athletics coaches of all time.
Shahamorov quickly turned into a human cheetah, and she began shattering Israeli records one by one.
The international medals were quick to come. In December 1970, she had won two gold medals and one silver in the Asian games that took place in Bangkok that year. It was clear to all, this phenomenal athlete is going to the Olympics!
In the 1972 Munich Olympics, Shamorov didn't make the finals in the 100-meter dash, but she did manage to break the Israeli record with an 11.45-second sprint (a record that was only broken in 2018 by Diana Weisman).
After that, she had made the semi-finals in the 100 meters hurdles, when the terrible and infamous Munich Olympics Massacre took place. One of the 11 Israeli athletes that were killed in the attack was Amitzur Shapira, her personal trainer, a terrible tragedy that eventually led to her retirement from active competition.
We won't bore you with all of Shahamorov's accolades, because that would just take forever and ever, but here is an interesting fact you should find entertaining. The 1974 Asian games took place in Tehran, yes that's right, the capital of Iran. That was back when we had great relations, before the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
During those games, Shahamorov won three gold medals under the coaching of her husband, Peter Roth, who had no official background in athletics whatsoever.
Shahamorov continued on to become one of the greatest athletes in Israeli history. Her arguably greatest achievement was reaching the 100-meters hurdles finals in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where she finished in 5th place, missing a medal by a mere 0.8 seconds.
This achievement was monumental, she was the first Israeli athlete to make an Olympic final, and it is still considered Israel's greatest Olympic achievement in the running heats.
With five gold medals and one silver medal in the Asian Games, two gold medals in the Asian Athletic Championships, 10 gold medals in the Maccabiah Games, and countless other medals, achievements, and records in Israeli and international competitions, its no surprise
many consider Esther Roth-Shahamorov the greatest Israeli female athlete of time!