Little girls all over Israel said “Me, too!” in the positive sense of the phrase, as Sapir Meir Fishelzon, a 29-year-old married mom who is an acrobatics teacher and gymnastics coach, became the first woman to make it to the semifinals of Ninja Israel.
Fishelzon did what all successful Ninja Israel contestants do – she made it look easy. As she swung from rung to rung, leapt and caught various omegas, avoided dropping into the pool and scaled the wall that has also been the downfall of so many, she radiated calm and discipline. At one point, she signaled to the cheering crowd for quiet as she composed herself.
A veteran athlete, Fishelzon was recruited into competitive gymnastics after coach Ilana Katz saw her turning cartwheels in a park at the age of six. She was the national Israeli champion on the floor exercises for several years, and represented the country in international competitions including at the European Championships and the World Championships. But she bowed out of competitive gymnastics at 15, according to an article on the Mako website, due to a fear of failure, a fear that she has apparently overcome.
Speaking about competing not long after giving birth – her son is one year old – she said, “After birth, it took me a while to get used to being a mother. I was scared of the world of sports as a mother.” She said she wondered: “Will I be able to train? What happens to the body after birth?… It’s no different from birth. You just need to know how to incorporate it. I take my son with me for all the training. I want to tell all moms, don’t give up.”