MAIGS Competitors Enjoy Sydney

January 6, 2011 by J-Wire
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The Maccabi Australia International Games (MAIGS) provided Sydney with a festival of sport, community spirit and international flavour.From David Weiner and Henry Benjamin

Talia Golkylkdrim and Julia May end their swim All photos Henry Benjamin

It came and went with the blink of any eye, but after a lot of hard work to get the event up and running, the excitement and adrenalin was still pumping when Maccabi News caught up with MAIGS organiser Jeff Houseman this week.“It was a sensational 10 days,” he beamed.

“Athletes enjoyed it, everyone enjoyed it. The weather was good, there were first class sports venues.

smorgangoldman.jpg“Passion8 and the food they provided was second to none and all we’ve had is glowing reports from the athletes and management. The transport was unbelievable as well and the people on my executive … the volunteers, billeting families who weren’t part of Maccabi were absolutely brilliant.”

Jeff says the second instalment of the Games proved once again to the Maccabi world that Australia puts on a mighty sports event.

“The internationals were so happy. We as Australians do everything, and we all did it as a passion.”

The Ocean Swim at Bondi Beach on a glorious Sydney day was Jeff’s highlight – everyone who participated has raved about the event. It was the first Maccabi ocean swim anywhere in the Maccabi world, and was such a success that it looks set to remain as an annual event in Sydney.

That will become one of the Maigs great legacies, and the rest of the week’s festivities will be debriefed to see how the local Maccabi community can become more involved in future events. In terms of international support, Jeff was disappointed that the likes of South Africa, England and some of the European countries did not send delegations, but admits that given the packed Maccabi International calendar (The European Games in Vienna 2011; Pan America Games in Sao Paulo 2011 and the 2013 Maccabiah are all on the horizon) all Australia can do is continue to deliver a quality event to convince Maccabi sports people around the world to choose the Maigs as a tournament to travel to.

“The week went quickly, but we’re on the map as a first class organisation,” Jeff added.

“The week started brilliantly with the Shabbaton that started the ball rolling.

“Everything was just run with a passion.

“We were just one big happy family – that’s what Maccabi is all about.”

Israel Andrade - with tefillin and gold

Peter, Jacqui and Janine Lowy

Highlight news stories of the Games included the winner of ocean swim, 19-yr-old Marcus Schlesinger from Southern California who competed only two short months after his best friend was taken by a shark off Santa Barbara. “I swam every stroke for him” he told J-Wire. A rare occurrence at the lawn bowls when every bowl ended up in the ditch in one end recording a nil score. And then there was the tale of a US basketballer who ruptured her Achilles tendon. The head of the US delegation is an orthopaedic surgeon who put her in a cast at the sports centre…she flew home to Los Angeles the next day to await the arrival of another orthopaedic surgeon who was playing in the Masters basketball. He performed the operation on her.

…happiest moment of the Games was the hand in hand finish of two eleven-year-olds, Talia Goldkydlkdrim and Julia May who competed in and completed their first ocean swim. At the pool, where Schlesinger, tipped to be the new Mark Spitzer, won Gold in seven events, spectators were treated to outstanding swims by Israel champion Amit Ivri.

Marcus Schlesinger with his gold medals

On her way home to Los Angeles is 21-yr-oldf Jacqui Lowy who, like her father Peter and Melbournian Josh Herz were three Aussies who donned the red, white and blue of the U.S. In her baggage was a Gold Medal for women’s basketball… the sport all three ex-pat Aussies played for their adopted country.

yet another cherished moment was the queue formed by athletes following the Masters basketball gold medal game to await the willing services of bocherim from the Sydney Yeshiva Centre to put on tefillin. For some, like 6’9″ giant Brazilian Israel Andrade  it was the first time in his 51 years that he had experienced the wearing of tefillin and the reciting of the accompanying brochot.

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