A mighty finish in Mexico City

Among the 16 gold medal winners were endurance athletes Daniel Rifkin (left) and Alan Kaplan, who were triathlon and Maccabi Man champions. Photo: Julie Kerbel

IN a powerhouse final week of the 2019 Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City, the Australian team earned another 13 gold medals to take their golden tally to 16, and their overall medal count to 50.

This amazing combined effort helped the Aussies come fourth out of the 21 competing nations. Here are some green and gold highlights.

SWIMMING

Australia’s junior, open and masters swimmers won a remarkable eight golds, 18 silvers and five bronzes at these Games. Australia’s flag-bearer and team captain Barry Carp led the way with five individual men’s masters golds, but every member of the squad earned a medal. Tall 15-year-old Canberran Zak Levine was named Best Junior Male Swimmer of the Games for excelling in individual and relay events, while Jade Berson, and mother-daughter combo Daniella and Gabi Goodridge, all won a stack of silvers and bronzes.

The team’s crowning glories, that sent Aussie fans in the stands into a cheering frenzy, were gold medal wins to Australia’s boys’ 4x200m and girls’ 4×100 freestyle relay teams.

Members of Australia’s highly successful swimming squad. Photo: Julie Kerbel

Boys’ relay team member Ben Potash said, “It’s an unbelievable experience, to see the hard work we’ve put in over the last five years pay off here in Mexico – it’s really incredible.”

TENNIS

Sydney’s Alex Placek, 16, and Melbourne teen Brad Lowe breezed through their boys’ doubles preliminary rounds but were pushed all the way in the semis by Chile, winning a tiebreaker in the third and deciding set.

“We found the energy to come back, and fought to the end, the way the Aussies do it,” Placek said. 

Junior tennis stars Brad Lowe (left) and Alex Placek.

Then they were crowned champions after comfortably winning their final 6-3, 6-2. Placek also won a boys’ singles silver medal.

The Aussie masters team won medals of all colours, the gold one earned by Lauren Ehrlich and Caron Stein in women’s doubles.

Masters Tennis legend Bert Rosenberg was inspirational in winning singles bronze at the ripe old age of 87.

ENDURANCE SPORTS

Maccabi NSW Triathlon and Cycling Club members Daniel Rifkin and Alan Kaplan defied the most unforgiving conditions to clinch four golds for Australia in the toughest of Pan Am sports. In 30-degree heat, both won their age categories (Rifkin 30-35, Kaplan masters) in the gruelling Maccabi Man and triathlon events that required hours of swimming, cycling and running. Rifkin also won open water swimming bronze, and Kaplan won bronze in the masters half marathon. The pair wore beaming smiles of satisfaction – particularly Kaplan, who revealed he’d battled through a stomach bug. “I never give up … that’s my motto,” he said.

BASKETBALL

The green and gold open men’s basketball team made up for an early loss to Guatemala by beating them in the bronze medal match 83-60. Brothers Hudson (15 points) and Bailey De Bortoli (12 points) led the way in attack.

Australia’s junior boys’ basketballers taking on the USA. Photo: Julie Kerbel

The team even gave champions the USA a run for their money in the competition, keeping up with them until the final quarter, eventually losing 47-77.

Our junior boys’ basketball team also won bronze, edging Brazil 66-60 in a thrilling play-off clash in which Adam Hatchuel starred, earning the MVP award.

The Aussie boys’ youth side bowed out after a narrow 75-68 loss against Colombia, but Nico Taranto scored 22 points in that game, and finished the tournament as the best three-point shooter.

FOOTBALL

Australia’s junior boy’s football team proved competitive against much more experienced teams from across the Americas. They finished sixth and created memories that will last a lifetime, including a scintillating 3-2 upset win over the USA.

Joseph Feldman in action.

That unforgettable match featured top notch goals – a long range thunderbolt from Kovi New’s right boot, a wonderful finishing touch by Mark Shvartsman, and a rocketing strike by Joel Parasol.

For the full list of medal winners, see this week’s AJN.

AJN STAFF