A small group of swimmers sat pinned to a television set in Hebron on Friday to watch fellow Palestinian Sabine Hazboun stroke her way through the London Olympic pool in 50m Freestyle.
After their own training session in Hebron’s semi-Olympic pool, head of the Palestinian Swimming Association Fawaz Zaloom and five of his swimmers were gripped with the performance of the 18-year-old Hazboun, one of the most promising talents in Palestinian swimming.
“Come on Sabine!” the Hebron swimmers cheered, and “go, go!” they urged on the Bethlehem native, who came in 51st out of 74.
“Sabine got a wild-card to London because she is one of the best female swimmers in Palestine, in addition to the fact that she took part in three international competitions,” Zaloom told AFP.
“She is an ambitious girl and I expect further success and higher rankings,” he said.
Even though the result wasn’t earth-shattering, the spectators in the West Bank town were pleased with her performance.
“The results are no surprise and I’m satisfied,” said Zaloom. “We are an occupied people and under our harsh circumstances, her result is very good.”
“The mere participation in the Olympic Games and and carrying the Palestinian flag is an achievement,” he said.
“It gave us the chance to tell the world about our cause and created a civilised image of our people, who deserve a country of their own.”
To 13-year-old swimmer Tala Dmeiri, “the fact that my fellow swimmer Sabine reached the Olympics is something I take pride in, and now I will try to train harder to become more like her in her dedication.”
Fellow swimmer Akram Bader, 18, who has known Sabine for five years and trained with her, believes Hazboun “deserved a much better result because of her ambition and willingness to achieve her goals.”
“Maybe if we had enough resources, such as proper swimming pools and the ability to train without our freedom of movement being impaired we would have achieved a better result,” he said.
Bader, one of the leading Palestinian swimmers who says he hopes to be able to take part in the next Olympics, sees Hazboun’s feat as “a source of pride for us Palestinians which should inspire us to continue training, achieve more and get better results.”