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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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: Canadians win 70 medals at Maccabiah Games

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Alexia Miller shows off her track and field gold medal

Canadian athletes came home with 70 medals – including 22 gold – as the 19th Maccabiah Games wrapped up last week.

With the third-largest delegation at the Games, behind only Israel and the United States, Canada far exceeded the 54 medals earned at the last Games in 2009.

Canada finished third that year, behind the two larger delegations.

Final medal standings for this year’s Games weren’t available at The CJN’s deadline, but Canada and Australia were expected to record the highest medal counts after Israel and the United States.

The Canadian men’s open and junior hockey teams, each with a gold medal, along with a golfing gold and two golds in a new event – Maccabi man and Maccabi woman – are among this year’s highlights, said Tom Bacher, president of Maccabi Canada.

The Maccabi woman competition consists of four events held over seven days, including a half-marathon, a 26-kilometre bike race, an Olympic triathlon and a five-kilometre swim. Judy Snider, 52, won a gold medal in the over-35 division, while Sasha Gollish finished first in the under-35 grouping, he said.

Canada’s 2013 medal haul was boosted in the Games’ final days on the softball diamond. The women’s open team won a silver medal, losing to the United States in the championship game, 4-0. Canadian pitcher Amanda Greenberg threw with a stress fracture in her pitching arm before being pulled from the game.

The open men’s softball team likewise fell to the United States in the gold medal game, this time by a score of 6-2.

The men’s master’s softball team, however, managed to do what the younger athletes failed to do – they struck gold.

They defeated the United States 7-6 in the title game. David Goldstein led the way with two hits, while pitcher Murray Margolis struck out seven batters in three innings of relief work.

In squash, Albert Shoihet dropped a 3-1 decision in the final game, but it was still good enough for a silver medal.

In track and field, Alexia Miller, 17, won a gold medal in the 400-metres, a silver in the 800-metres and a bronze in the 4x100-metre relay.

On the soccer pitch, Canadians came home with medals as well. The women’s team, defending gold medalists, cruised to a 3-0 victory in the bronze medal game against Australia.

The men’s team duplicated the ladies’ success, roaring into a 3-0 lead versus Mexico and holding on for a 3-1 victory, also winning a bronze medal.

That win gave Canada its first-ever men’s soccer medal at the Maccabiah Games.

Bacher said the swim team’s Alex Shogolov won a bronze medal, while two more medals were earned in relay events. Overall, 12 swimmers recorded personal bests at the Games.

Unlike the situation four years ago, the team’s accommodations weren’t a disappointment or a distraction.

“There was not a single complaint about accommodations,” said Bacher, adding that there were some transportation glitches, but nothing unusual for an event in which there are 9,000 participants.

He called the gold medal hockey games in Metulla particularly memorable, as friends and fans crowded the Canada Centre rink.

“We rejuvenated the Metulla area,” he said. “The arena was packed with close to 1,000 people watching.”

As to the Games overall, “I think everybody had a great time,” he said.

The younger athletes enjoyed a six-day pre-camp, which included extensive touring and fun activities.

“A lot of kids told me [the Games] changed their lives. A lot told me it was the best experience of their lives,” Bacher said.

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