Five races, five golds – Aussie swimmer stars in Maccabi Pan-American Games

July 16, 2019 by Jake Rosengarten
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After a week of unforgettable sporting experiences, the 14thedition of the Maccabi Pan-American Games has come to an end.

Maccabi team

Mexico City did a phenomenal job hosting Maccabi’s quadrennial showpiece – and proved to be a particularly happy hunting ground for Team Australia. Having sent its largest delegation in a 20-year history at the Games, the Aussies were rewarded with an all-time medal tally tipping in at exactly 50.

The charge was led in the pool, as a small yet mighty contingent of swimmers blitzed the competition to contribute more than half of the total tally. Flagbearer and team captain Barry Carp proved untouchable in his masters events, completing a perfect meet to snag five gold medals from just five races.

Barry Carp [centre]

Meanwhile, the juniors fared similarly well, with every single member of the group bringing home at least one medal in an incredible feat of dominance. Individually the big winners were Jade Berson, Gabi Goodridge and Zak Levine – who was named best male junior swimmer at the event – as each went home with six or more medals to their names.

Having set the standard early in their program, it was up to the rest of Team Aus to match the brilliance seen in the water. And over in the table tennis arena, lone duo Sam Parasol and Raymond Rozen were doing just that.

The pair cleaned up in the teams and doubles events, claiming gold in both, but not before a heroic resurrection from Maccabi veteran Parasol. In his 14thinternational games, he dramatically battled a health scare to return and clinch the ultimate prize. Rozen went on to add bronze in the singles.

Meanwhile, our Maccabi Men, competing in the Games’ toughest event were on their way to glory. Daniel Rifkin and Alan Kaplan performed astonishingly over the four-sport event, fighting through a cycling time trial, open water swim, triathlon and half marathon to claim a perfect gold sweep in their respective age groups.

Both were also crowned champions in the triathlon, as Kaplan inspirationally battled through illness to blow away the competition. “This isn’t about triathlon, its about life,” Kaplan heroically explained after receiving gold, delivering a strong message of perseverance from which we can all learn.

Over on the football field, that same mantra was at play. After being conceding 25 goals in their first four matches, our junior boys decided to rewrite the script, scoring three unbelievable goals to beat the USA and register their first win of the tournament. The scenes that followed were as good as gold.

The players hurled coach Nathan Maiorana in the air, sung loud for hours and rejoiced in the lifetime memory they had just created with their best mates. Absolute magic.

Meanwhile, three basketball teams were equally hard at work, coming up against a physical brand of South American play as well as a rampant US juggernaut. The Youth Boys side failed to register a victory, but their never-give-up attitude was the envy of many. Late call-up Nico Taranto was the arguably the find of the tournament, picking up the award for most 3-pointers in the division after being named an injury replacement just a few weeks before getting on the plane.

The Junior Boys worked hard under Greg Shapiro, and after back-to-back slender victories over Brazil, they walked away with a deserved bronze medal. Just reward for a talented group who came together strongly when it mattered most.

In the Open Men’s division, the Aussies were a well-oiled unit under NBL-winning coach Al Westover. Having played under Westover for years in Maccabi Victoria’s Youth League program, the side were advantaged by a tactical understanding and pre-existing camaraderie that served them well in a tough competition. Having been outmuscled by Guatemala in the regular rounds, the Aussies got their revenge to bring home a bronze medal.

Out on the tennis court, there was plenty of talent on show in the green and gold. Young gun Alex Placek led the charge, as he surged all the way to the singles final, but unfortunately fell short to claim silver in his first international event for Maccabi. However, his golden moment came later that day as he teamed up with Brad Lowe. The pair saved their best for last as they blew away their opposition to be crowned junior doubles champions.

Contrastingly, our masters tennis contingent was headlined by a true Maccabi icon. At age 87, Bert Rosenberg grabbed his racquet once again and went in to battle for Team Aus. The veteran went on to snare bronze in a seriously inspiring moment of sporting achievement. However, he wasn’t the only one heading home with a little extra luggage.

Lauren Ehrlich nabbed herself gold and silver, after teaming up for doubles with Caron Stein and Jonathan Glass respectively. Meanwhile, her husband Paul also hit the court with Stein in a strong performance that netted bronze.

Overall it was a historically successful week for Team Australia with a week of cherished memories culminating in massive medal success. It bodes well heading into the future as preparations begin for the 2021 Maccabiah Games in Israel.

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