At just 16, Noa Szollos is making sporting history for Israel by becoming the first athlete from her country to win an Olympic Winter medal.
Finishing third on Friday in the Lausanne 2020 women's Super-G on the Les Diablerets slopes, she came back the following day to take silver in the combined event by finishing 10th in the slalom segment.
Szollos has only represented Israel, a country she has been to just twice, for two years. But that does not dent the Hungary-born athlete's pride.
“I’m very proud to be the first champion from Israel to reach the Winter Games podium,” she said. “It’s such a strong feeling to be able to represent the country in this way.”
Born in Budapest to a Jewish family, Noa followed in her father Peter’s footsteps, who also represented Hungary before obtaining Israeli citizenship and becoming a coach.
“At first, I thought it would be difficult for me to feel Israeli,” Noa said. “But when I return to Israel, I feel very much at home.”
Winters in Austria
While Noa spends the majority of the winter in Austria, she plans to spend several weeks this summer in Israel for physical training at the Olympic Centre.
“I train and study at the Waidhofen Training Centre in Lower Austria. It’s a facility which enables me to accommodate skiing and studying,” she said.
She also shares training with her two older brothers, Benjamin, and Barnabas, the latter who competed in the Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games where he finished seventh in the slalom.
A big surprise
Throughout these Games, Noa has shown her quality and speed, taking bronze in the Super-G before amazing herself in the slalom.
“It was a huge surprise to be on the podium in combined too because in slalom sometimes I’m great, but other times I make lots of mistakes,” she said.
With these two medals, Noa is happy to have paved the way for Alpine skiing in a country where the sporting tradition leans more towards basketball or football.
But her father Peter has another dream: “I would like my three children to be able to participate in the Olympic Games together,” he said.