Athletes say goodbye to Games

As the sun set on the 19th Maccabiah Games following Tuesday night’s electrifying closing ceremony, the record 9,000+ athletes, coaches and staff have begun returning home to their 78 different home countries.

By SAMMY HUDES
August 1, 2013 01:05
2 minute read.
The 19th Maccabiah Games

Maccabiah logo 370. (photo credit: Hana Ben Ano and Tal Huber)

As the sun set on the 19th Maccabiah Games following Tuesday night’s electrifying closing ceremony, the record 9,000+ athletes, coaches and staff have begun returning home to their 78 different home countries.

The ceremony was highlighted by mass clothing-trading session, as athletes spent hours on the Teddy Stadium floor exchanging their home team apparel for souvenirs from athletes of foreign delegations.

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But the exchanges were more than just a form of barter, representing the Jewish unity and global comradery signified by the Maccabiah Games.

“[I enjoyed] meeting all the new people and becoming very close with my team,” said 16-year-old silver medalist Ilana Kamber, an American fencer in the open women’s category.

Her teammate Anastasia Ivanoff, who took home gold in open women’s fencing, said the opportunity to explore Israel on a program called Israel Connect with the rest of the Maccabi USA delegation was also a major highpoint.

“We spent three or four days touring around Israel,” Ivanoff, 17, recalled. “That combined with the sports aspect together was just an incredible experience.”

For many athletes and coaches, the Maccabiah provided the opportunity to visit Israel for the very first time.

This list included former NHL coach Guy Carbonneau, also a three-time Stanley Cup champion as a player, who coached Maccabi Canada’s open men’s hockey team to decisive 7-1 victory over the US in the gold medal game.

“It was a little different,” Carbonneau said of ice hockey in Israel, where the sport was part of Maccabiah for the first time since 1997.

“They’re just starting to understand what hockey is,” he said. “It’s a small country. Hopefully in the next little while there will be a little more, and if [so], more kids are eventually going to skate and they’ll be better.”

For David Sofaer, 21, walking out onto the floor, surrounded by thousands of athletes and fans during the opening ceremony was the Australian tennis player’s favorite moment.

Sofaer, who won a bronze medal in the open men’s singles tournament, said he was impressed with the quality of play at the Games.

“It was a pretty good tournament and the standard was higher than I thought. I think there were eight guys with ATP rankings,” he said.

The opening ceremony was also a memorable night for 2012 Canadian Olympian Josh Binstock, who served as flag bearer and team captain of Maccabi Canada.

“I got a little emotional because my dad was beside me and when he gets going I kind of get going,” said Binstock, who won silver with Canada’s open men’s volleyball team. “It was a big honor just looking back and having 600 delegation members behind me just following my lead. It gave me goosebumps. It’s something I’ll never forget.”


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