Me­mory of cousin keeps Be­naim on the run to glory in Tel Aviv

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BY BRIAN SACKS

ATH­LET­ICS IS­RAELI long dis­tance run­ner Sagie Be­naim re­turned home for a five kilo­me­tre cross-coun­try race of deep per­sonal sig­nif­i­cance.

The 17-year-old, who re­sides in Swiss Cot­tage, North West Lon­don, took part in a run en­ti­tled Merutz Eyal — the Race for Eyal — in me­mory of his late cousin Eyal Sh­mueli.

Eyal was the son of Za­hava Sh­mueli, a dis­tance run­ner who won sev­eral Is­raeli ti­tles be­tween the late 1970s and early 1990s. He was also a tal­ented run­ner who achieved a marathon time of 3:07 un­der the guid­ance of Sagie’s mother, Mazal, who was also a sev­eral-times Is­raeli cham­pion.

Mazal par­tic­u­larly re­mem­bers his ded­i­ca­tion in train­ing and his smil­ing dis­po­si­tion. Eyal col­lapsed and died at age 27 in June 2001, and his mother, Za­hava, has or­gan­ised the Merutz Eyal in his me­mory ev­ery year since then.

It is held close to Tel Aviv in Ra­mat Hasharon, a place where her son trained.

Be­naim told JC Sport: “Merutz Eyal con­sists of two races: the 5K cross­coun­try that I ran, and a 15K race that is the of­fi­cial Is­raeli 15K Cham­pi­onship. There were in the re­gion of 500 run­ners in the 5K, and more than a thou­sand in the 15K. In my race I came sev­enth over­all, and I won my 17-19 age group.

“The hot con­di­tions and sandy ter­rain made it quite a dif­fi­cult race, but for me it was very im­por­tant to fly to Is­rael to be there in me­mory of Eyal.

“Our whole fam­ily found it very dif­fi­cult to cope with his loss, and we have set up a web­site record­ing his life up to his last evening.

“He had gone to a karaoke club with two friends; he was pre­par­ing to sing; he had a smile on his face. But sud­denly he col­lapsed, and he died within the hour. For my fam­ily, the smile he had on his face when he fell told them that his death was that of an an­gel.”

Sam Dobin, a sec­ond year eco­nomics stu­dent at Trin­ity Col­lege Cam­bridge, has achieved a rare feat by set­ting a record of 42.77 sec­onds in the Trin­ity Great Court Run.

The race around the Cam­bridge Court, and specif­i­cally the at­tempt to com­plete it within the time taken for the col­lege clock to chime 12, was made fa­mous by a fic­tional episode in the film, Char­i­ots of Fire.

Only Lord David Burgh­ley and Se­bas­tian Coe had ever pre­vi­ously achieved the feat. Lord Coe con­grat­u­lated Mr Dobin on a “fan­tas­tic and very rare achieve­ment”, while Dobin said: “It’s re­ally mo­ti­vat­ing — it’s in­spired me to go from here to 2012.”

Sagie (right) with Ze­hava Sh­mueli

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