In this year’s Iron Man competition, when Oren Blitzblau crossed the finish line he not only beat the sport but also beat the terrorist who wanted to kill him 13 years ago.
An Ironman Triathlon is a prestigious triathlon race organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). It consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, raced in that order and without a break.
This year’s race was held in Sweden and featured 1,700 contenders in which the Israeli, who was the only blind participant came in 83rd place in his age group. Alongside his running companion, Erez Falk, he clocked in at 10 hours and 51 minutes.
This broke the previous record set by a blind person in this competition by 12 minutes.
Sports has always played a major role in Oren’s life. As a kid, he used to swim competitively, but his swimming career was cut short when he was drafted into the Israeli army, after a brief stint in the Paratroopers Brigade, he transferred to the Intelligence Corps, where he served as an intelligence officer in the Armored Corps near Gaza.
In January 2005, Oren’s life hung in the balance after being severely injured by a suicide bomber who detonated himself in an outpost in the Gaza Strip. He sustained serious injuries to his inner organs, accompanied by burns all over his body, Oren lost his sight, and his hearing ability has been severely impaired.
After the rehabilitation process, he turned his focus back to competitive sports, and in 2013 he entered the European Para Triathlon category in the category of blind persons. This race required competitors to swim 54 yards (50 m), cycle 12.4 miles (20 km) and run 3.1 miles (5 km). Oren emerged as the champion of the event and moved into 5th place in the world rankings.
This was Oren’s first Iron Man competition, which he felt was a success. “I experienced a serious injury, but I showed that I can deal here with the Iron Man, and this ability also helps in dealing with the blindness on a daily basis.”
Now, after half a year of exhausting training for this competition, he wants to spend time resting at home in Israel with his wife Nitzan and two children. In another six months, I’ll start thinking about the next competition where there is also a category of Physically Challenged,” he asserted.
After the competition today he revealed, “I am very happy with the result, I know which landscapes I am missing out on, I was not born blind… but my imagination complements what I cannot see. After eight kilometers of riding, we went back into the city, heard the cars and realized that we had left the forest and returned to the city. There’s no doubt that the other senses are sharper. I’ll lie if I say it’s fun, but I do not want to think about that part, I’d rather just enjoy the achievement “.
“The feeling of satisfaction as an athlete is a tremendous feeling. But as a victim of terror, on the national level, it’s a huge victory… I returned to my first love, to sports and I managed to bring honor to the country all over the world today. There’s room for improvement and I will do my utmost to improve” he continued.
Executive Director of the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization, Brig. Gen. (res.) Haim Ronen commented on Oren’s remarkable achievement. “Oren’s achievement demonstrates that the strongest force in the world is willpower. We are proud of you and happy to help you make history. You are a model and an inspiration for all of us”.