The first time I heard about the
Maccabiah Games was at the JCC in the north end of Toronto, where my dad’s
friend was training to compete in the games. I was about 10 years old. Israel
was a brand new state and Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax had just retired
from the Brooklyn Dodgers. Besides him, Jewish athletes were a rare breed. An
elite competition geared towards Jews was something of a
That was almost 50 years ago. I hadn’t thought much about
the Games until a bike ride last September when someone in my cycling club told
me she was entering. Even though she is an internationally recognized cyclist in
her age group and I, on the other hand, am a recreational cyclist who competes
in the occasional club race, she planted a seed. After all, I rode across Canada
in the summer of 2007, biked from Vancouver to the Arctic Ocean in 2010, and
made several trips to Europe to ride the famous climbs of the Tour de France and
the Giro D’Italia.
My wife will be happy to inform you of my talent at
Not this time. As soon as I’d returned from that bike
ride I had the Canadian executive director of the Maccabiah Games on the phone.
“What do you need to know so that I can be on the Canadian team?” All of a
sudden, taking no for an answer was completely out of the question. She put me
in touch with the coach of the cycling team.
Believe it or not, age is on
my side at the Maccabiah Games, which is a contest for elite athletes of all
ages. Sports doesn’t have to be about peaking, winning and then burning out. It
is a lifestyle which guides you through all phases of life. I find it sad when I
see famous retired athletes who have let their fitness go. Not me. I’ve had good
results in the limited races that I’ve done, my training has included
cross-country treks with national champions, and this was enough to qualify as a
Masters athlete in the 60 to 69 age group.
Once I knew that I was on the
team, life was simple. I got a coach. Bike rides, indoor workouts, massage
treatments were integrated into my routine.
Preparing for the games got
me up in the morning and riding through the January snow and March rains. The
winter months were spent in D’Ornellas Cycling Club, low cadence spinning
classes working on pedaling technique, harder work outs facing the windows on
the eastern wall of the facility, dripping with sweat and watching the
pedestrians outside in the -15 C weather. It was a particularly nasty winter. At
my first race of the season in May we waited on the starting line through snow,
sleet, hail then rain. All part of the games.
My career in sales gives me
a certain set of goals.
This new goal, representing Canada at the
Maccabiah Games, has already been the ride of a life time.
living, being a good father, and training harder than I ever have before doesn’t
leave much time or energy for anything else. So I have not put too much thought
into the fact that my wife, Caroline, and I are returning to Israel for the
second time. I’ll be competing in my homeland. What a place to be for the
biggest sporting event of my life.