When athletes walk through the Olympic Park to their hotels, they pass the memorial for the 1972 Olympic assassination. That’s exactly what Israeli triple jumper Hanna Minenko and her coach Rogel Nachum did after Minenko won bronze. Team Israel released a photo of the visit, showing Minenko and Nachum with one arm around the other and the other raising the Israeli flag.
“I’m very proud to be holding up the Israeli flag here in Munich,” Minenko said after her triple jump competition. “Especially because it’s 50 years after the Olympic Games in Munich.” Minenko was born in Ukraine in 1989, married decathlete Anatoliy Minenko in 2013 and has competed for Israel ever since.
The memorial in the Olympic Park is built into a hill. Anyone standing underneath can see through the open sides the crime scenes where coach Mosche Weinberg and weightlifter Josef Romano were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the Olympic Village on September 5, 1972, and nine other athletes were taken hostage. David Mark Berger, Zeev Friedman, Yossef Gutfreund, Eliezer Halfin, André Spitzer, Amitzur Schapira, Kehat Shorr, Mark Slavin and Yakov Springer died trying to free themselves at the Fürstenfeldbruck military airfield, as did police officer Anton Fliegerbauer.
Every athlete from Israel is still aware of the assassination attempt in Munich 50 years later. Maru Teferi said after winning the team gold in the marathon: “I want to dedicate this medal to the families of the victims and send my love to everyone.” The European Championships in Munich are also emotional for Rogel Nachum, Hanna Minenko’s coach. He was once active as a triple jumper: “I was invited by the German Olympic Committee to mark the twentieth anniversary of the attack in Munich. And today, 50 years later, we won a medal here and I’m very happy. First for Hanna, then for everyone Fans and the country, and a little bit for myself too,” he told the Israeli news site Ynet.
A German security guard who showed members of the Israeli delegation the Hitler salute caused outrage
A commemoration event is planned for the 50th anniversary of the assassination on September 5, but this is overshadowed by the dispute over compensation payments to the bereaved: “After 50 years of insults, lies and insults, our patience is at an end. Enough. Stop it.” , Ankie Spitzer, André Spitzer’s widow, recently told the Israeli daily hairnet. During the European Championships in Munich, a German security man who showed members of the Israeli delegation the Hitler salute caused outrage near the memorial.
Hanna Minenko and Rogel Nachum were not present at this incident. It is important to the coach that the good relations between the athletes are not affected by the incident: “I know so many German athletes and coaches. The German triple jump head coach Charles Friedek was my opponent at the time”, which is also why the duel between him Minenko and Germany’s Neele Eckardt-Noack had a lot of fun. Eckhardt-Noack jumped only two centimeters shorter than Minenko. “We are good friends, I was often in Germany at the training camp,” said Nachum.
He feels safe, even more so: “It’s beautiful in Munich. I’ve been active in athletics for 35 years, the atmosphere in the stadium was one of the best. That makes the medal even nicer than it already is,” he said 55 year old. “The crowd knows athletics well, it’s part of their culture and you can feel that.” Athletics is less important in Israel than in Germany. The country is in 14th place in the medal table. Nevertheless, there are isolated reports about the successes at the European Championships. Never without remembering the 1972 assassination.
The Israelis have not been able to celebrate a sprint success for years. The last sprinter to date to compete on the international stage for several years was Esther Roth-Shahamorov. In 1972, at the age of 20, she set an Israeli record in the 100 meters in Munich. She was even more successful in the 100 meter hurdles, but she did not compete in the 1972 final. Roth-Shahamorov survived the assassination because she was housed in another building, her trainer Amitzur Schapira was murdered on the night of September 6th.
Now, 50 years later, the land of Israel has a top-notch sprinter again. Eighteen-year-old Blessing Afrifah became world champion in the U20 class in Colombia in early August with a time of 19.96 seconds over 200 meters. Afrifah was born in Israel and was a running sensation there from an early age. However, he could not start for Israel for a long time because his parents are from Ghana. The blue and white jersey means a lot to him, he says: “It was very important for me to come to Munich and represent my country Israel 50 years after the assassination attempt. I came here to show that Israel is still alive.”