Raisman: Munich Anniversary Made Hava Nagila Routine ‘Special’
American Jewish gymnast reflects on her golden performance in London
Following her gold medal winning performance in the women’s floor exercise on Tuesday, Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman paid tribute to the 11 Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich massacre.
The 18-year-old Olympian made headlines by performing her floor routine to “Hava Nagila,” making good on a promise she made to use the Hasidic tune at the Olympics.
While Raisman says that performing to “Hava Nagila” on the 40th anniversary of the Munich terror attack is merely a coincidence, the memory of the fallen Israeli Olympians nevertheless made it “special” for her to win gold using the popular Jewish song.
“Having that floor music wasn’t intentional,” she told reporters after her performance. “But the fact it was on the 40th anniversary is special, and winning the gold today means a lot to me.”
When the judges announced her score of 15.600 points, Raisman became the first American woman to ever win gold in the Olympic floor exercise.
“That was the best floor performance I've ever done, and to do it for the Olympics is like a dream,” she said.
The native of Needham, Massachusetts also won gold in London in the women’s team competition, and took home a bronze medal in the women’s beam routine.
Raisman has said she is proud to be one of the few Jewish athletes in the world.
“I am Jewish, that's why I wanted that floor music,” she told the New York Post. “I wanted something the crowd could clap to, especially being here in London. It makes it even much more if the audience is going through everything with you. That was really cool and fun to hear the audience clapping.”
When asked about the IOC’s decision to ignore calls for a moment of silence at the opening ceremony of the Olympics on July 27, Raisman said she would have supported a minute to pay tribute to the victims of the attack.
“If there had been a moment’s silence, I would have supported it and respected it.”
A memorial ceremony for the Munich victims was held Monday in London, organized by the Israeli Embassy in London and the National Olympic Committee of Israel along with the London Jewish community.
IOC President Jacques Rogge, who spoke at the memorial, held a moment of silence for the Israelis at a small ceremony in the Olympic Village prior to the start of the Olympics, which was attended by about 100 people. He has said the opening ceremony would not have been an appropriate setting for a moment of silence for the victims.