Keren Or Leibovitch (also Keren Or Leybovitch; born July 25, 1973) is an Israeli champion Paralympic swimmer.[1][2]

Leibovitch is a three-time world champion, a five-time European champion, a holder of three world records (for the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke and the 100-meter freestyle), and an eight-time Paralympic medal winner.

Early life and injury

Leibovitch, who is Jewish, was born in Hod HaSharon in Israel.[3] She first swam at the age of two.[3] She studied philosophy at Tel Aviv University.[3]

Her back was badly injured and she was disabled at the age of 18, in 1992, from an accident during her service in the Israeli Defense Forces, while training to be an officer.[3][4] Leibovitch is paralyzed from the waist down.[2][5][6] After two major operations, she still had permanent back and leg injuries.[5][6] She began swimming as part of her rehabilitation.[5]

Swimming career

She won three gold medals at the European Championships in Germany in 1999.[3]

Leibovitch has competed in the Paralympic Games, a major international multi-sport event in which athletes who have a physical disability compete, which were created by Ludwig Guttmann, a German Jewish doctor who escaped from the Nazis.[7]

Leibovitch won three gold medals in swimming at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia, winning the 100-meter backstroke, 100-meter freestyle, and 50-meter freestyle events.[2][4][8][9] She broke three world records along the way.[6] Asked whom she views as her hero, she responded:

I look up to people who achieve what they set their minds to. I admire people who live at peace with themselves ... who are not afraid of what society might say ... who think to make themselves really happy. If people can relate to a disabled person as a winner, then the whole attitude towards disabled persons might change. And if I achieve that, that's my fourth medal.[10]

She was given the honor of lighting the torch at the 2001 Maccabiah Games at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.[11]

She set a world record in 2002 in the 100-meter women’s freestyle, with a time of 1:08.90.[12] She won three gold medals in the Israeli Swimming Championships for the Handicapped in 2003, and, set a world record for the 50-meter backstroke (37.78 seconds), also earning gold medals in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events.[12]

She set a world record for handicapped swimmers in the 200-meter backstroke of 258.55 in June 2004 at the Wingate Institute.[13] By 2004, she was also the world record holder in the 100-meter freestyle.[14][15]

In September 2004 she won a gold medal in the women's 100-meter backstroke (1:19.55) at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens.[2] She also won two silver medals (swimming a 1.09.86 in the 100-meter freestyle, 19 seconds behind Paralympic-record-setting American Jessica Long, who broke her own Paralympic record,[16][17] and the 50-meter freestyle) and a bronze medal (in the 200-meter individual medley).[7][18][19][20] The world record holder in the event, she finished in 1:19.55, nearly five seconds faster than second place Dóra Pásztory of Hungary.[21] The Games hosted competing athletes from 136 countries.[7]

In 2005, she was voted the 46th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.[22]

At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, a year after giving birth to her first child, she narrowly missed winning her ninth Paralympic medal, coming in fourth in the 100-meter backstroke.[5][23]

She is a three-time world champion, a five-time European champion, a holder of three world records (for the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke and the 100-meter freestyle), and an eight-time Paralympic medal winner.[2][23][24][25]


  1. ^ "Sports stars to light beacons". The Jerusalem Post. April 26, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Leibovitch, Karen". Jews in Sports. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Jodi Werner Greenwald (2005). "Jewish + Female = Athlete: Portraits of Strength from Around the World; Questions & Answers; Keren Leibovitch". The Hasassah-Brandeis Institute. Archived from the original on September 16, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Judy Lash Balint (2001). Jerusalem diaries: in tense times. Gefen Publishing House Ltd. ISBN 965-229-271-0. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Keren Liebovitch". Israeli Speakers. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Seligman, Ruth A. (October 4, 2005). "Jewish Women's Calendar Celebrates Sports Stars". Womens eNews. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c David Brinn (September 26, 2004). "Israeli athletes strike gold at World Paralympic Games". Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  8. ^ David Singer (2001). American Jewish Year, Book 2001. American Jewish Committee. ISBN 0-87495-116-X. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  9. ^ Matti Friedman (September 20, 2004). "Next wave of Israeli Olympians sets off for Games in Athens". The Jerusalem Report. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  10. ^ Viva Sarah Press (November 4, 2000). "Striking Gold Down Under". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  11. ^ "The Maccabiah Games history and information". Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "World Record Swimming Sensation". Israel National News. September 17, 2003. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  13. ^ "The local scene". The Jerusalem Post. June 17, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  14. ^ Marge Neal (September 22, 2004). "Swimmer Long wins gold medal". Dundalk Eagle. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  15. ^ Marge Neal (September 29, 2004). "Swimmer Long finishes Paralympics with three gold medals". Dundalk Eagle. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Sports Reports; Swimming" (PDF). USA Daily. September 21, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Paralympic Swimming Continues: U.S. Comes on Strong During Day Two". Swimming World Magazine. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  18. ^ Bob Wechsler (2008). Day by day in Jewish sports history. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. ISBN 0-88125-969-1. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Profile – Keren Or Leybovitch". BEST sports. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Athlete Search Results". Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  21. ^ Frankie Sachs (September 23, 2004). "Leybovitch gets a gold". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  22. ^ גיא בניוביץ' (June 20, 1995). "הישראלי מספר 1: יצחק רבין – תרבות ובידור". Ynet. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  23. ^ a b Allon Sinai (September 11, 2008). "Shaziri shoots silver bullet; Israel rolls on in hoops, tennis". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Keren Leibovitch". June 25, 1973. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Pro Cycling News". Daily Peloton. September 9, 2005. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 

External links