Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko Booed After Winning 400 IM Silver at World Championships; Responds with Classy Comments

Anastasia Gorbenko of Israel competes in rde Women's Medley 200m Heats during rde 20rd World Aquatics Championships at rde Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 23rd, 2023.
Anastasia Gorbenko -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko Booed After Winning 400 IM Silver at World Championships

In the aftermath of the breakthrough swim of her career, Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko received boos from the crowd after the women’s 400 IM final at the World Championships in Doha.

Gorbenko finished in 4:37.36, knocking almost three-and-a-half seconds off her previous best time, and the time was almost good enough for gold, with only a late surge by Great Britain’s Freya Colbert denying Gorbenko the top spot. The second-place finish was Israel’s first-ever swimming medal at the World Championships, but in the ensuing moments, the moment turned political. After climbing out of the pool for the medalists’ customary post-race interview, Gorbenko was met with jeers from fans upset with Israel’s role in the country’s ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Gorbenko and the on-deck announcer largely ignored the boos while Gorbenko expressed pride in her embattled country. “I’m just so happy to be here and representing my country during this hard time,” she said. “Being here with the Israeli flag means a lot to me and to my country, so that’s the best I can do.”

During the ongoing conflict in the tiny Palestinian enclave of Gaza, tensions between Israel and Qatar, host nation of this World Championships, have been heightened. For years, Qatar has been among the countries providing financial support to Gaza amid an Israeli blockade, and Qatari officials have supported negotiations between Israel and terrorist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, regarding the release of hostages. However, in November, Israeli soldiers graffitied the damaged Qatari embassy in Gaza with the Star of David.

Israeli athletes competing this week in Doha were provided extra security in acknowledgement of the current instability in their home country and the strong voices on both sides of the conflict.

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1 month ago

I was really sickened to hear the crowd booing, whistling and jeering at this young athlete. Gorbenko was entitled to be there.
It pleased me to see Freya Colbert give her a big hug.

1 month ago
Reply to  MastersSwimmer

I was really sickened to see someone proudly waving the flag of a country arguably committing genocide (at best, horrific crimes against humanity)…

It saddened me to see a genocide supporter receiving a big hug.

1 month ago

Hamas leaders are living luxurious lives in Qatar for years, Qatar are financially supporting Hamas (terrorist organization in case you forgot or are not aware of the facts). Gaza citizens don’t see much of it if any.
There is no blockade, there is a border with Egypt. Gaza people came to work in Israel (unfortunately some used this time to draw maps where to attack on Oct 7) and some are treated in Israeli hospitals. Try being objective when you write.

1 month ago


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