Israel swimmer booed by crowd in sour finish to World Championships

February 19, 2024 9:52 am

[Source: Reuters]

An Israeli medallist was booed by the crowd in a sour finish to the Doha World Championships on Sunday, taking the gloss off some stunning achievements in the pool highlighted by Sarah Sjostrom’s third consecutive 50 metres freestyle world title.

Anastasia Gorbenko took silver in the women’s 400 metres individual medley but her celebrations were spoiled as a chorus of boos rained down from the terraces, drowning out her post-race interview by the floor presenter.

The jeers continued as Gorbenko left the Aspire Dome pool, and she was booed again at the medals ceremony though there was also applause. Briton Freya Constance Colbert won the race.

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The presence of Israeli swimmers at the championships has drawn criticism from some Doha media outlets and pro-Palestine groups amid Israel’s military campaign in Gaza in response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Swimming’s global governing body World Aquatics did not provide immediate comment.

World record holder Sjostrom earlier showed she will be the woman to beat for the Olympic 50m freestyle gold in Paris by rocketing to the title with a blazing time of 23.69, the fourth fastest in history.

“That was amazing…. I came here with confidence that I did a really good time yesterday,” said Swede Sjostrom, who beat American silver medal winner Kate Douglass by more than two-tenths of a second.