By Leigh Rodgers, Maccabi SA communications manager
The 20th Maccabiah kicked off officially on Tuesday 4 July and Team South Africa started strong, excited and enthusiastic.
Here are some highlights from our first week.
Rugby 7s competition
The first team sport of the Maccabiah Games to reach completion was the Rugby 7s tournament, which saw Team South Africa place on the medals table before the opening ceremony as our junior and open teams took bronze and gold medals respectively.
Not only did this win send spirits sky-high for the rugby teams, it infused the entire 300-person delegation with optimism, energy and a fighting spirit!
Team South Africa’s first silver medal
The first silver medal Team South Africa claimed was awarded to Moshe Duek, a Masters golf delegate who came second in the Nett of the Grand Masters Tournament with a score of 219 after three rounds.
Three gold medals for Team South Africa cyclists
An exciting morning saw three of Team South Africa’s five cyclists — Issy Zimmerman, Jody Zulberg and Jared Poulton each win a gold medal in their respective age group’s time trials.
Although the time trial competition is an individual event, the Maccabi SA cyclists are a close-knit team who have trained with and been inspired by each other, making these victories a real collective win. Issy Zimmerman is the most experienced rider in the group where Maccabiot are concerned and has attended the games since 2009 when he won a gold medal for the time trial.
Not winning the medal in 2013 gave him greater determination to make a comeback this year and he’s done just that, winning gold in the Veteran Men’s division and managing to overtake many of the competitors who beat him in 2013. The youngest cyclist to win the gold is Jared Poulton who won the Elite division.
While this is his first Maccabiah, winning this event has been his goal since he won the Gauteng U23 Time Trial last year. As the Israeli Cycling Academy, who have a profession and highly competitive team, was riding in this event, Jared says his result was unexpected and he is thrilled to have performed so well.
The gold medal in the Veteran Women’s division came from Jody Zulberg, a powerhouse who has played a huge role in the management and cohesion of this team. She has never participated in a Maccabiah before, and while she has been to various other World Champs and Ironman competitions, she says this supersedes anything she’s ever seen or experienced.