(photo credit: Sloane Milstein)
The Maccabiah Games are not only about winning medals and breaking records.
Equestrian Carly Goldstein (16) showed everyone the character and determination of a true champion, even without scaling the podium. During a horse riding competition last year, Goldstein fell off her horse and broke her back in three different places.
However, Goldstein and her family didn’t know how severe her spinal injury was. “I learned my back was broken only four days before we came to Israel. I decided to come here anyway and try to compete, but once I started riding my horse in the competition, I felt my back couldn’t hold me, I felt numbness in my back and had to retire,” Goldstein said.
The relationship between a rider and his horse is crucial, and as well as Goldstein’s injury, her horse was ill just a few hours before the competition on Tuesday and could not compete.
Despite this unexpected hurdle, Goldstein was paired with a different horse, and after training with it for a short time, she decided to compete in the medium level dressage (“Horse Ballet”) contest.
The referees and the rest of her competitors waited patiently for Goldstein to enter the arena. And although she wasn’t able to finish the competition, the rest of the teams and fans didn’t stop cheering her efforts.
“When I couldn’t ride, the American, Israeli, Mexican, Chilean and the rest of the teams cheered so hard I got so excited.. I thank them so much,” she said.
Goldstein was given another chance to compete on Wednesday, but her back injury kept her out again. “It’s very unfortunate I couldn’t carry on because I came here to ride, but my injury made it impossible. I’m still very happy being here with my teammates and the rest of the delegation,” she said.
Goldstein has been riding for 12 years and is thrilled to visit Israel together with her parents and older brother who came to support her.
Goldstein says she will never forget the Maccabiah experience, not only from a sporting standpoint, but also culturally as a Jew visiting Israel.
“It is one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I don’t want this visit to end,” she explained.
“Since I got here I met a lot of Jewish athletes competing in different sports besides equestrian, and that is really cool.”