MANY Israeli athletes dream of standing on the winners’ podium at an international tournament, proudly holding their country’s flag – and at just 10 years of age, Sela Elmaliah has already ticked that box.
Wearing a beaming smile and a gold medal around his neck, the young Caesarea resident – the son of Melbourne-born Rashi [nee Friedman] and her husband Nissim – stood proudly alongside Lithuanian runner-up Adomas Rudys and bronze medallist Jonas Radionovas after winning the 10-11 boys’ Group C individual kata orange belt title at the inaugural World Budo Karate Children’s Championships, held at Cido Arena in Panevezys, Lithuania last month.
In a field of 18 athletes from Lithuania, Poland and Moldova, the Israeli won all his four bouts to finish first.
Elmaliah has two older and two younger siblings, he regularly visits Melbourne, and has been training and competing in karate for three years at Poleg Karate Centre with his teacher Reuven Sharf.
He told The AJN on Monday via email that he is passionate about karate because “in addition to physical training, it trains me to be patient, work toward long-term goals and focus on every tiny detail in every move, which is the key to success”.
“I was very proud of myself and my country, and it was very exciting to wave the Israeli flag in Lithuania.
“This achievement was a great personal reward after all the hard training … but just one step in the long ladder of improvement.”
His proud Australian grandmother, Hannah Friedman, said she could not be prouder.
“Sela is a very good-natured boy – I heard that at the [medal] presentation, he felt for the other two boys who didn’t win, so he even wished them both good luck for next time,” she said.