When the starting gun goes off at the Tokyo Olympics women’s marathon next summer, one elite runner may be sitting on the sidelines—not because of her running time, but because of her religious beliefs. Beatie Deutsch, Israel’s national champion marathon runner, can’t compete if the marathon is held, as scheduled, on the Jewish Sabbath.
Her path to the Olympic Games could have been scripted for Hollywood. Ms. Deutsch, 30, ran her first marathon in 2016, when she was a mother of four. A year later, she ran her second marathon while seven months pregnant. In 2018 Ms. Deutsch won a race for the first time and in 2019 she won the Israeli national marathon championships, with a finishing time of 2 hours, 42 minutes, 18 seconds—three minutes faster than the Olympic qualifying standard at the time. Along the way she has overcome severe anemia and dealt with celiac disease.