Better than the Best – Maccabi Annual Awards Event

August 5, 2010 by Odile Faludi - Maccabi NSW
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NSW Maccabi’s Odile Faludi reports on the sports organisation’s annual awards….

Louis Platus, Barry Smorgon and Tom Goldman

Often my husband Peter says, “Maccabi News should be called Maccabi Schmaltz” and he is probably right with this week’s edition. This edition showcases our Jewish sportspeople who have certainly made us incredibly proud and touched our emotions with their accomplishments. Last Tuesday evening 200 people attended Moriah Drama College Theatre for the Annual Maccabi Awards event. It was different this year for so many reasons. Maccabi being homeless with no Hakoah Club took the brave step to introduce a new format with dinner being served first then presenting the awards in an auditorium style presentation. This new format seemed to work very well with a cosy and warm feeling. Other obvious differences to the night were the calibre of nominations in all categories. This could be especially seen in the Mick Brandon, Sportswoman of the Year category which had not been represented in previous years (in fact for three years). Also, the Leo Kellerman Junior Sportsman of the year category where there were joint winners as the nominees were so outstanding. The evening certainly set the bar high for future years to come. There was also one more thing which was different this year. The absence of our King of Hearts, Michael Wrublewski, OAM. His passing has left a big void in the organisation and his beaming smile is greatly missed.

So, let’s start reviewing the evening from the top. Anthony Goodridge our MC extraordinaire brought his usual humour and sense of fun to the evening. His wife Daniella is set to give birth very soon to baby number three so we were very lucky to have Anthony hosting the soiree.

The highlight of course, was Louise Sauvage, OAM who in person is lovelier than one could ever imagine. This humble, charming woman told us her story and as Anne Besser, Master’s Triathlon queen said so eloquently, “Louise has always been my hero.” After listening to Louise it is very easy to understand why people would regard her as a “hero.”

To give you some background, Louise was born with a congenital spinal condition resulting in her being a paraplegic. It was discovered when she was 4½ years old. Her parents always treated her exactly the same as her sister. She attended regular primary school and couldn’t be more down to earth. She has so many achievements and has dominated the sport of wheelchair track racing since her appearance at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games. As an 18 year old she won three gold medals and one silver medal and commenced her reign as “Queen of the Track.” Louise candidly reports the highlight of her career was on the track scene, Sydney Olympics 2000, where she competed in the final 800 metres and was the only Australian in her race. Louise says, “To have an event of that magnitude in your home country is the ultimate; to have everyone supporting you is phenomenal. It was the first time some of my family and friends had ever seen me compete and I don’t think they fully understood what I did until then. To have 110,000 people out there all wanting me to win was unbelievable.” Louise added: “The crowd stood up and commenced roaring and I felt a rush of air come underneath me and just push me to the finish line winning gold. I did a victory lap but I wish I had done more. To be number one in the world is such an achievement. The most memorable moment was being presented my gold medal by Juan Antonio Samaranch, President IOC. I looked up and saw the Australian flag being raised whilst hearing 110,000 voices singing Advance Australia Fair and for that one moment in my life everything was worth it. I had endured so much to get that far but it was certainly worth the effort.”

After listening to Louise every Jewish sportsperson should be inspired to undertake a sport at the upcoming Maccabi Australia International Games, “MAIGS” in December. Australia will get the opportunity to showcase their best athletes to the world. The following countries are now confirmed Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, USA and Venezuela. Possible countries: Hungary, Germany, Poland, Turkey, France, Italy, Belarus and Latvia. So don’t miss out! Louise has just told you why … nothing else beats competing on home turf.

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