Kellerman Courting a Medal

July 10, 2013 by David Weiner-Maccabi NSW
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Adam Kellerman’s participation at the 2013 Maccabiah Games adds another chapter to one of Australia’s Jewish community’s most inspiring stories of resilience.

Adam Kellerman

Adam Kellerman

The wheelchair tennis star, who represented Australia at the 2012 London Paralympics, heads to Israel after an undefeated performance for the country in the wheelchair tennis World Team Cup in Turkey last month.

Tennis might now be a flourishing career for Adam, 22, but it is also a pastime that changed his life, reviving him after surviving a battle with cancer.

As a healthy, happy 13-year-old, Adam started feeling pains in his leg. His family’s worst fears were realised when doctors diagnosed him with Ewings Sarcoma, a cancer. It started a brutal journey for Adam and his family: as if he needed another setback, a subsequent infection in his leg escalated into a further two year battle.

Adam emerged triumphant, but required a walking stick to get around.

“I found it frustrating how everyone else’s life went on, while mine was at a standstill. It chewed me up inside.

“The best thing that happened out of all this time was in December 2006 I started playing wheelchair tennis.

“It felt like I had found something that made me normal again playing with other disabled people who all had their own similar, but very different, inspirational stories to tell” – Adam Kellerman,

So, Adam didn’t just enjoy his new hobby. He excelled.

After working his way through the ranks, representing Australia as a junior in 2007-8 and then the men’s team, Adam enjoyed a stint at Arizona University, after which the Masada College graduate put everything on hold to obtain his Paralympic dream.

It was a relentless campaign to qualify for the Games; full-time training and a tireless tournament schedule. He started his qualification bid ranked No.61 in the world, knowing the cut-off was at the world No.48 spot. By London, he was the world’s 29th best player, making the round of 16.

Adam hasn’t stopped improving since London, either.

Today, he’s ranked No.20.

Adam’s story has the power to inspire and he has embraced that part of his sport.

“I’ve made a couple of motivational speeches, where I say: anything is possible and you should go after what you want,” Adam told me in 2012.

“Sometimes it takes a lot to find what you want. Once you find it, you don’t hesitate.”

And he also wants to sing the praises of his chosen sport and spread the word. It changed his life and he wants people to know about it.

“Tennis is a big sport in Australia and wheelchair tennis is a big part of that – but awareness within Australia is pretty low, not many know about it,” Adam said.

“That’s what I really want to change in my career. I want to spread wheelchair tennis, so people know about it.

“Wheelchair tennis players in Australia are in similar rankings to Bernard Tomic or Samantha Stosur – we are the top players in the world and it’d be great to spread the awareness and encourage people – and sponsors – to support what we’re achieving.”

Adam applauds the Maccabiah movement for including Paralympic sports for the first time. Australia will field three athletes in this division, and Kellerman says “Maccabiah is leading the way”.

“A lot of the (disability) athletes work just as hard, if not harder, than able-bodied athletes, so we have every right to compete in front of the same crowds as our other Jewish athletes.”
When the opportunity arose for him to play a part in the Australian team at the 2013 Games, Adam was eager to make it work. Indeed, so were the Maccabiah organisers, who shuffled the schedule to ensure the high profile athlete could attend.

“It’s a great honour to play over in Israel and to play for Australia and I’m very excited they could change the schedule so I could compete. I’ve always wanted to go to a Games, just never had the opportunity.”

In a tantalising drawcard, Israeli Noam Gershony is also in the competition.

Now, it’s the Maccabiah Games, but what next for Adam? No surprises, but he’s thinking big …

“The only logically step I could think of was to aim higher,” Adam said as a guest speaker at Maccabi NSW’s annual awards night in 2013.

”I don’t just want to compete at the Paralympics. I want to win gold.

”As of now, as well as my nutritional medicine degree, I’m training to win gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016.”

Adam lives by Michael Phelps’s dogma: “You can’t put a limit on anything; the more you dream, the further you get”.


One Response to “Kellerman Courting a Medal”
  1. Rabbi Eli says:


    Adam you are a real inspiration! 🙂

    We are praying for your success both on and off the court… go for Aussie Gold! 🙂

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