Fridman in action
|Native name||גל פרידמן|
September 16, 1975 |
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||68 kilograms (150 lb)|
|Coached by||Mike Gebhardt|
|Achievements and titles|
|Highest world ranking||1st (Mistral, 2003)
25th (RS:X, 2007)
|Updated on 8 August 2012.|
Gal Fridman (Hebrew: גל פרידמן; born September 16, 1975) is an Israeli windsurfer and Olympic gold medalist. Fridman won a bronze medal in the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics, and a gold medal in the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics. He is the only Israeli athlete to win two Olympic medals, and the first (and only, thus far) Olympic gold medalist in Israeli history. Fittingly, his first name, Gal, means "wave" in Hebrew.
Early life and career
Fridman is Jewish. The second out of three children, Fridman was born to Dganit and Uri Fridman, and has an older sister named Maayan and a younger brother named Yuval. Introduced by his father to windsurfing, Fridman started sailing at age 7, and racing at age 11. The first international competitions he entered were in youth categories during his school years (1989 & 1991). Afterwards he served in the IDF and began competing in adult categories.
In 1995, he won the ASA Boardsailing Championship in Eilat, Israel. In 1999, he won the International ASA Windsurfing Championship in Eilat. Despite his form in the previous year, he failed to qualify to the Sydney 2000 Olympics. In 2002, he won the Mistral World Championship in Pattaya, Thailand, and in February 2003, Fridman was listed #1 on the International Sailing Federation rankings.
Fridman was one of Israel's Olympic team favorites to a win a medal (along with judoka Ariel Zeevi and athlete Aleksander Averbukh), and prepared intensively for the Olympic Games two years prior to the event. In 2004 Summer Olympics, Fridman again competed in the Mistral windsurfer sailing, a discipline that included 11 races. Fridman's results were:
(Note: the worst race score is omitted)
In the last race on August 25, 2004, Fridman exploited a poor performance by Brazilian leader Ricardo Santos and a tactical mistake by Greek windsurfer Nikolaos Kaklamanakis in order to burst forward and finish the final race second, thus earning the gold medal overall. He achieved an overall total of 50 negative points, and a net total of 42 negative points. Since this was the lowest negative score in the competition, Fridman earned first place and received the first Olympic gold medal ever won for Israel.
- Gal Fridman – Israel (gold medal)
- Nikolaos Kaklamanakis – Greece (silver medal)
- Nick Dempsey – Great Britain (bronze medal)
- Ricardo Santos – Brazil
- Przemysław Miarczyński – Poland
The President of Israel, Moshe Katsav, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and other senior Israeli officials and politicians at the time called Fridman to congratulate him. The minister of Education, Culture, and Sports, Limor Livnat, flew to Athens for the awards ceremony. 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).
Approaching the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Fridman found it hard to adjust to the model replacing the Mistral windsurfer – the RS:X Neil Pryde windsurfer, and failed to qualify for the Olympic team. A young and promising windsurfer by the name of Shahar Tzuberi took his place. After 2008, Fridman no longer competes in windsurfing, having made the switch to coaching. He guided Nimrod Mashiah to the silver medal in the 2009 World Championship. He married Michal Peleg in August 2005, his girlfriend for the past ten years. In June 2005 his medals were stolen from his parents' home after a robbery, but the gold medal was retained. In July 2009, his wife welcomed a baby girl, Ella.
Hall of Fame
|1995||Mistral European Championship||2nd|
|1996||Mistral World Championship||2nd|
|1996||Olympic Games, Atlanta||3rd|
|1997||Mistral European Championship||3rd|
|1999||International ASA Windsurfing Championship||1st|
|2002||Mistral European Championship||2nd|
|2002||Mistral World Championship, Thailand||1st|
|2003||ISAF World Championship||3rd|
|2004||Olympic Games, Athens||1st|
- List of Olympic medalists in sailing
- List of World Championships medalists in sailing (windsurfer classes)
- List of Jews in sports
- Israel at the Olympics
- Sports in Israel
- "Gal Fridman biography and Olympic results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
- גיא בניוביץ' (June 20, 1995). "הישראלי מספר 1: יצחק רבין – תרבות ובידור". Ynet. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
- Taylor, Paul (July 1, 2004). "A Complete Review of Jewish Olympic Medallists". Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash between Sport and Politics. Brighton, United Kingdom: Sussex Academic Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-1903900871. LCCN 2004000498. OCLC 54046723. OL 8769453M. Retrieved August 8, 2012. Lay summary.
- "Gal Fridman". Retrieved August 7, 2012.
- "Israel's Nimrod Mashiah wins silver at windsurfing world championship". Haaretz. September 10, 2009. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
- "Gal Fridman". International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 7, 2012.