Farewell to the NSW Maccabiah contingent…and 1997 remembered

May 23, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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The countdown to the 2017 Maccabiah Games has really ramped up, with the first of three official farewells held for the 570-strong delegation held in Sydney on Sunday to farewell the New South Wales contingent.

Maccabi Australia Inc Chairman Barry Smorgon, Josh Frydenberg, Adam Kellerman, Adam Zines, Sean Bloch and Head of Delegation Tom York          Photo: Robi Karp

The event also included poignant, moving memorial service to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1997 bridge tragedy, including the lighting of memorial candles and a prayer from Rabbi Mendel Kastel, followed by a beautiful address from Adam Zines, son of Warren Zines, on behalf the families of Yetty Bennett, Elizabeth Sawicki and Greg Small. Zines, Bennett, Sawicki and Small lost their lives when a bridge carrying the Australian contingent heading to the opening ceremony of the 1997 Maccabiah collapsed.

The Liberal Member for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg who is the Minister for Environment and Energy, also gave a heartfelt address, reflecting on his memories of the fateful day in 1997. Frydenberg, a member of Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal government, was part of the tennis squad at the 1997 Games, and was at the Opening Ceremony with his father.

After the commemoration, attention turned to the 2017 Games, with an inspiring presentation from 2013 Maccabiah gold medallist and Paralympic wheelchair tennis star Adam Kellerman, before cyclist Sean Bloch was announced as the team captain and Opening Ceremony flag bearer for 2017.

Bloch, who cycled at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and is now a leader in the Sydney Maccabi community with the cycling club, was appointed not just for his CV from his career spanning his time in South Africa and Australia, but for the leadership role he can take with Australia’s largest delegation.

Bloch told the audience at Sydney’s Central Synagogue: “This is one honour that I didn’t expect to receive. As an athlete we dream about gold medals and winning races but receiving such an honour, to be named as the Australian team captain and flagbearer for the opening ceremony of the 20th Maccabiah Games 2017 in Israel.

The Maccabiah Games is an event like no other: to some, it’s the Olympics they may not get too. To others, it’s the stepping stone to the Olympics they’re striving for. But to most, it is simply to be able to complete against other like-minded Jews in Israel on an international sporting stage.

My name is Sean Bloch – but it’s not my name that make my rivals worried; it’s that I am a member of the Australian Maccabiah team.

I have lost more races than I have won but today I stand before you as your Australian Team Captain not only striving for more of my own success, but I am striving for success for the entire Australian Maccabiah team.

All of us, as athletes having the honour to be able to wear the green and gold of Australia and represent our country, is not something we should to take lightly. You are all here because you have worked hard, trained hard and played hard to become a member of this Australian Maccabi Team.

You are about to represent yourself, your family, your friends, your team, your sport and your country.

No-one will fault or be disappointed with anyone who strives to be their best and challenge themselves to go where they have never been before. I ask you to look back at this event and say: I did my best no matter what the result.

Many years ago I looked at my coach when I was faced with a very difficult situation during a race and his response to me was “just do what you know you can do and the rest will look after itself”.

If you take that with you through these Games the rest will look after itself.

We, as the sportsmen and sportswomen of this Australian Maccabiah team, have come this far with all the hours, days, weeks and years of training behind us with true Aussie spirit. So lets arrive in Israel as the Australia Maccabiah team for 2017 and stand together at the opening ceremony, sing Hatikvah with 35,000 others Jews from around the world and make this the best Maccabiah Games ever.”

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