Maccabiah 2013: Steven Solomon
Olympian Steven Solomon will join the Australian team at the 19th Maccabiah being held in Israel later this month. He talked with Maccabi’s David Wiener.
Steven Solomon was the captain of Australia’s Youth Football side in 2009. In a few weeks in July, he returns to Israel as one of the Maccabiah Games’ marquee athletes and a finalist at the London Olympic Games in the 400m.
Solomon, 20, is currently studying at Stanford University in California, and the Games will form a part of his preparations as he targets further success at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow in August.
“This Maccabiah is going to be very different from my last in 2009, where I captained Australia’s Youth Soccer Team (pictured, right),” Solomon told Maccabi Australia. “This year, the 2013 Maccabiah Games has a different vibe about it. “I am very excited and humbled by how kindly Jews from all over the world have taken to my achievements, and I hope that I have and will continue to inspire them to perform both on the sporting field and off.” Steve’s 2009 adventure as part of a team full of his friends will differ greatly to his upcoming appearance, where the former Cranbrook School student in Sydney needs to maintain an individual focus as he builds up for Moscow. “Thinking back to my 2009 Maccabiah experience is a lot of fun,” Steve added. “The Games taught me so much about the country, about my heritage and about myself. It was awesome travelling and competing with my team (Australian Youth Soccer Team). “I have changed a lot since I last stepped on Israeli soil, and I am excited to bring a different Steven Solomon to this year’s Maccabiah Games.”
Things have also changed a lot since the whirlwind in London, where Steve finished eighth in the 400m final after clocking two sizzling personal bests on the way to becoming the first Aussie to make a 400m finals in 24 years, including a 44.97s semi-final performance. Steve, who was awarded the NSW Athletics male athlete of the year last month, arrives in Israel not only balancing expectations now, but on the comeback trail from injury as well. “I am coming off an injury in 2013, and have had to adapt my training schedule greatly in order to keep healthy and running,” Steve explains. “I have also just finished my first year of college at Stanford University in America, which presented many challenges such as the challenge of combining sport and study- a challenge I have had in the past but not during my preparation towards London.”
Life studying medicine and training at the elite level in California seems to be treating Steve pretty well.
On the track, he set a Stanford freshman record, and clocked the third quickest 400m time ever at the College with a 46.12s at the Pac-12 Championships. “I am having the time of my life here at Stanford University,” Steve says. “The university is unbelievable. Every facet is beyond anything that I have ever seen before or even heard of. The campus itself is the second largest in the world, and has everything from golf courses to hospitals to even a shopping mall. The university is situated right in the heart of Silicon Valley, home of many of the world’s most influential technology companies such as Google and Facebook. “The aesthetics of the university are breathtaking, and combine both renaissance designs with modern architecture. “The teaching faculty are not only world leaders in their field of expertise, but also become your friends. “In one week last term, I had the privilege of listening to Mark Zuckerberg, Condoleezza Rice and Melinda Gates lecture. “But above the exceptional facilities, eye-capturing environment and influential speakers, my favourite part of Stanford University is the student life. With acceptance rates as low as 5.6%, the quality of people at Stanford is to me what makes it such an incredible institution. The prestige of Stanford attracts not only those with gifted minds and talents, but attracts good human beings. The administration process, although at times painstakingly arduous, is there to bring in the best all rounded applicants. “Everybody is sociable. Everybody has a strong work ethic and everybody has a desire to make their time at university a time that they will remember for the rest of their lives.” “Lively” party life, “awesome” people, “gorgeous” weather … Steve seems pretty content. “It is of little surprise why Stanford Alumni Herbert Hoover (31st President of the United States of America) deemed the university as ‘the most beautiful place on earth’,” Steve adds.
Israel forms one leg of Steve’s route to Moscow, which includes competing in Dublin in Ireland before arriving at the Games. He’ll then jet off to England to join Australia’s track and field squad ahead of Moscow.
Steve adds that he is “eagerly awaiting” his race in Israel and will come “ready to run fast”. Hopefully, the Maccabiah Games will be another step in the right direction ahead of the World Championships.
“I expect myself to devote complete attention to my preparation towards the World Championships in Moscow. In terms of goals leading into the competition, I would like to be in good shape, with as much confidence in my current ability as possible.
“These next few weeks are critical and will play a large role in determining how I perform in Moscow, so I hope I can make the most of them and find some good form heading into the championships.”
Despite Steve’s rapid ascent over the past four years, where he famously burst onto the scene at the 2011 Aussie national championships, he has not forgotten where he’s come from. Between the Olympics and departing for America in 2012, he made a number of appearances at his old stomping grounds and the former Maccabi football junior in Sydney received a rock star reception at a number of Maccabi events in his home town.
It explains why, with such a full life and itinerary, Steve has still made sure to squeeze the Games into his schedule.
“Maccabiah is an event that has a lot of rich history behind it. It is of symbolic significance to the Jewish people, and is played out in Israel – the only place in the world where Jewish people are a majority. “Jewish people take enormous pride in visiting Israel. “To compete in a country with such heritage and at an event so deer to Jewish people is an honour.”