President Reuven Rivlin (first row, third from left) and his wife Nechama (first row, second from left) welcomed Maccabi World Union chiefs, heads of delegations and Maccabiah athletes yesterday to their official residence in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN / GPO)
Australia’s Matt Levy set a world record in the swimming competitions of the 20th Maccabiah on Monday, with the seven-time Paralympic medalist improving his own record in the 200- meter freestyle in the S7 class.
The 30-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, is competing in the Maccabiah for the first time.
He won a gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympics as part of Australia’s 4x100m freestyle relay team and a gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in the 4x100m medley relay event.
Levy also claimed one silver and three bronze medals in London and is competing in Israel a year after taking a bronze in the 200m individual medley in the Rio Games, while also finishing fourth in the 50m and 100m freestyle events.
Levy, who was born at 25 weeks and has survived 46 operations, set a time of 2:16.28 minutes at the Wingate Institute, an improvement of 46 hundredths of a second to his previous best recorded in April of this year.
“It is an honor to be asked to go to these games to represent Australia,” Levy said when it was announced he would be competing in the Maccabiah.
“When I go overseas I love to learn about the different cultures, and people and learning about the culture side of Judaism in a place like Israel will be pretty amazing.”
There were also new Maccabiah records set in the pool on Monday.
After breaking the Games record in the 100m free on Sunday, Andrea Murez set a new best in the 200m free, clocking 1:59.80 minutes.
Murez smashed the record she set four years ago while representing the USA .
Murez moved to Israel from the US in 2014.
Another Maccabiah record was set by 17-yearold Israeli Denis Loktev, who won the men’s 200m free in 1:49.31m.
Tuesday’s schedule in the pool includes a special exhibition event featuring American Olympic champions Lenny Krayzelburg, Jason Lezak and Anthony Ervin.
Krayzelburg took part in the 2001 Maccabiah and claimed three gold medals in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and one more in Athens four years later. Lezak competed in the Maccabiah in 2009 and has eight Olympic medals to his name – including four golds – from Sydney 2000 to London 2012.
Ervin is competing in the current Maccabiah and is the reigning Olympic champion in the 50m free. They will swim a relay with Alex Blavatnik, a Maccabiah masters swimmer and a major donor. They will compete against an all-star team of retired and active Israeli swimmers, including Yoav Bruck, Eran Garumi, Guy Barnea and Tal Stricker.
Elsewhere Monday, 18-year-old Israeli Ofir Kremer won the gymnastics all-around final.
The individual apparatus finals will be held on Tuesday.
Earlier Monday, President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama welcomed Maccabi World Union chiefs, heads of delegations and Maccabiah athletes to their official residence in Jerusalem.
“Sport has always been a way to bring people together,” Rivlin said.
“Sport brings people closer because it is a celebration of the human spirit and body, but also because sport at its best reflects the world in the way we would like to see it where talent is celebrated regardless of religion, race, or gender, and everyone must play by the rules.”
Rivlin also spoke of the importance of the Maccabiah.
“As Jews we know that it is far from a given that all people can take part in sporting competitions and that sports and politics don’t mix,” he added. “Jews have been victims of racism and discrimination in sport. The Maccabiah is the answer to this. The Maccabiah is against hatred. We must maintain these values and fight together against the dangerous BDS movement and the mixing of sports and politics.
“We can argue and we can disagree between ourselves. But we are always one family.”For more information and full results, please visit www.maccabiah.com