HAGAI, BARUCH (1944– ), Israeli athlete in handicapped sports. Hagai is the only athlete in the world to win four consecutive gold medals in the Paralympic Games. He was born in Tripoli, Libya, and immigrated to Israel in 1951 at the age of seven. At the age of two he was stricken by polio. He began his career in 1960 in two sports: basketball and table tennis. In the 1964 Handicapped Olympics held in Tokyo he won a gold medal in table tennis and in the 50 meter breast stroke in swimming, as well as in the slalom race. In 1971 he won a gold medal in basketball in the World and European Championships for the handicapped. In 1972 he won a gold medal in table tennis in the Handicapped Olympics held in Heidelberg. In 1975 he won a gold medal in basketball in the World Championship for the handicapped. In 1976 he won a gold medal in table tennis in the Handicapped Olympics held in Toronto. In 1978 he won a gold medal in basketball in the European Championship. In 1980 he won a gold medal in basketball in the Handicapped Olympics held in Arnhem, The Netherlands. In 1981 he won a gold medal in basketball in the European Championship. In 1997 he received a special gold medal for his special contribution to national and international sport. He was named Sportsman of the Year in Israel on the 40th and 50th anniversaries of its independence. In 2001 he was awarded the Israel Prize for his contribution to handicapped sports in Israel. From the 1980s he coached other handicapped athletes.
[Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]
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