Israeli swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko booed at Worlds in Qatar after winning silver medal


Israeli swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko won a silver medal in the 400-meter medley at the World Aquatics Championships in Qatar on Sunday but didn’t receive a warm reception on the podium when she received her prize.

Gorbenko, the 20-year-old from Haifa, Israel, faced boos from the crowd in Doha as she was making poolside comments after the race.

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Anastasia Gorbenko swims

Anastasia Gorbenko of Israel competes in the women’s 400-meter individual medley final at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

“I’m just so happy to be here and represent my country in 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.”

As she wrapped up her remarks, some cheers were heard mixed in with the boos.

Gorbenko finished with a time of 4:37.36. She finished behind Britain’s Frey Colbert, who clocked in at 4:37.14, and in front of Italy’s Sara Franceschi, who finished at 4:37.86.

It’s the first time she’s medaled in the World Championships in the 400-meter medley event. In the 2021 World Championships, she finished with gold in the 50-meter breaststroke and the 100-meter medley.

Anastasia Gorbenko hugs Freya Colbert

Gold medalist Freya Constance Colbert of Great Britain, left, hugs silver medalist Anastasia Gorbenko of Israel after they finished the women’s 400-meter individual medley final at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

MEDALS FOR THE 2024 PARIS OLYMPICS ARE MADE FROM EIFFEL TOWER PIECES

Israeli competitors at the World Championships drew criticism from media in Qatar and pro-Palestine groups who have been upset with Israel’s military operation in Gaza following Hamas’ terror attacks in the country on Oct. 7, according to Reuters.

She later said she wasn’t going to be deterred from the podium if she medaled, but the jeers affected her during the week.

Anastasia Gorbenko waves

Israel’s silver medalist Anastasia Gorbenko poses on the podium of the women’s 400-meter individual medley swimming event at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP via Getty Images)

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“There was no way I was going to miss [the podium] just because some little kids are going to do whatever they want to,” Gorbenko said, per Reuters. “It does affect me emotionally. It’s been like a long week for me. I expected myself to do better than what I did.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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