The Fourteenth Maccabiah: 5753
The 14th Maccabiah broke attendance records: 5,100 athletes arrived from 48 countries and competed in 32 fields of sports. For the first time, since the establishment of the State of Israel, contingents arrived from Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and eight republics of the CIS. Croatia, Georgia and Portugal participated in the Maccabiah for the first time. The South African team returned and appeared under the South African flag, with the fall of apartheid and removal of the ban by the international community on the country. Seven-seven athletes and their escorts came from Turkey, after a gap of twenty four years, representing the Constantinople branch of Maccabi World Union (the first Maccabi Club) that had renewed its activities after many dormant years. Three athletes from Hong Kong appeared for the last time under the flag of their state. During the 15th Maccabiah the Hong Kong contingent will appear under the Chinese flag.
Three new games were added to this Maccabiah: netball (women), triathlon (1.5 km swimming, 10 kilometers running and 40 kilometers biking), and a half marathon run.
The media also broke all participation records with 321 journalists from all over the world. At Kfar Maccabiah Bezek installed a modern communications center. Israel TV broadcast a special daily coverage, every evening, on the Maccabiah events, in addition to their live coverage from the swimming pool, the gymnastic arena, and the light athletic stadium.
The emotional Opening Ceremony, emphasizing Aliyah and Absorption, included a massive march, movement, dance, song, an air show (four Kfir planes flown by the IDF), gliders and a sound and light show. The main attraction was provided by a Jumbo jet that landed at the beginning of the ceremony and a group of immigrants debarked in the center of the stadium.
Guests of honor were representatives of the International Olympic Committee and athletic veterans and ׂGolden Agers׃ of Maccabi World Union, among them 80 year old Massimo de la Pergola , Chairman of Maccabi Italy and Chairman of a branch of International Sportswriters, and Juan Antonio Samarnash, President of the International Olympic Committee. A guest of honor of a ׂdifferent sort was Robert de Niro, the movie actor, who was invited by the Israeli producer Arnon Milchin; he sat in the box of honor next to the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the House. Planted on the side of the stadium was a giant torch, 15 meters in height, that was designed by Yossi Assana and built by Yehuda Cranes Company. Amisragas supplied three tons of gas that kept a tremendous flame lit for six hours. The flame of the 14th Maccabiah -- the world's largest at 1.5 meters in height -- was seen from every possible angle in the stadium. The cost of the Opening Ceremony totalled $850,000, about a tenth of the cost of the entire Maccabiah.
Sports events took place throughout the country -- from Metullah in the North to Ein Gedi in the South, with the main events centered in the Gush Dan region, so that the volleyball games were at Rashish Arena in Petah Tikva, soccer in Bat-Yam, the tennis tournament in Ramat Hasharon, junior soccer and basketball in Yad Eliahu Stadium, badminton in Kiryat Sharett in Holon and the bowling tournament in the Super Bowl in Ari-Hahof Mall. The international chess championship was held at the Margoa Hotel in Netanya, while at the same time at the Tel Aviv University Campus, the handball, rugby and swimming events went on. Seven million shekels were invested in the construction of a modern gymnastics center at Hadar Yosef for the 14th Maccabiah. At the Olympic shooting range named for Yigal Alon in Herzliya, a new section opened for rifle marksmen in the 50 meter range.
The $8.73 million budget for the 14th Maccabiah Games ended in an excess of $50,000 (50% were subsidized by the delegations, 25% by the Government, Jewish Agency and municipalities, and the remaining by sponsorships, advertising and other sources). Unfortunately, the enormous energy and resources that were invested in this Maccabiah were not equally reflected in athletic achievements. The athletic competitions, which previously were the highlight of the Games, suffered cancellations from numerous categories: pole vaulting, hammer throw and walking (men), 10,000 meter run, triathlon and walking (women). Israel’s swimming and athletic teams, this time captured fewer medals than in previous Maccabiah Games, but did walk away with first place in fencing, volleyball and for the first time in the history of the Maccabiah Games, also in badminton, following a difficult win over the outstanding British team, with a final score of 5:2. In total, Israel won 74 Gold Medals, 61 Silver and 50 Bronze, outstripping the United States -- 46-49-38, Canada -- 14-7-15 and the CIS -- 9-4-9.
The outstanding athletes, although perhaps not on the same level as previous Maccabiah Games, included Darren Shongold (10.74 seconds in 100 meters), the American athlete Jennifer Frank (12.26 seconds for 100 meters, beating Esther Roth’s 20-year old record by half a second). These two athletes were crowned ׂFastest Jew and Jewess in the World׃ at this Maccabiah. Vadim Baviko and Alex Feingret achieved impressive records in their javelin throwing with distances of 76.44 meters and 75.6 meters. Isareli Orit Kolodoni set a new record in the 400 meter run (54.27 seconds) on the same day that Itai Margalit secured his world record in Stuttgart with his vault jumping of 2.25 meters. The Ethiopian-Canadian athlete, Josef Kobir, won three Gold Medals at this Maccabiah in the 1,500, 5000 and 10,000 meter runs.
The American swimmer Lisa Martin was queen of the pool, winning seven Gold Medals, four of them individual ones. The young Israeli swimmer, Moran Zomerfeld, set new Israeli swimming records, when she broke Gineal’s record set in 1980 in 400 meter freestyle, with a time of 3:58.43 minutes. CIS table tennis team introduced two Russian champions, Irena Timina and Vilna Felina, ranked 38 and 52 in the world and the National Canadian team member bettered the opponent Oleg Ladin in freestyle, who won a Gold Medal in the same year in the 100 kilo competition of the World Cup in Tennessee, USA. The gymnastics star of the Maccabiah, without a doubt, was the Olympic gymnast, Russian Valery Blankey, who participated only in the pre-trials and in the Opening Ceremony. Within the framework of the Junior Maccabiah, the gymnasts that stood out were Michal Shahat, European Junior jumping champion, Yahav Dori, the swimmers Avi Madnick (Toronto), Dov Melnick and Ethan Orbach (both of Israel -- one of them champion in the breaststroke category, the second freestyle and backstroke.)
Among the accompanying events, this time during the Maccabiah, the Handicapped Olympic Games took place at the Sports Center in Ramat Gan.
This time the World Children's Art Exhibition was dedicated to the subject, ׂLeaping into the next century׃ -- alongside this an outstanding exhibition of sports-oriented photographs, under the title ׂUnrepeatable Moments took place. Israel Educational Television held a Maccabiah Quiz for school children under the auspices of Dr. Uriel Zimri and Israel Paz. The Government Office of Medals and Coins minted a special Medal in honor of the Maccabiah, Bezek issued a special Telecard (phone card) with the Maccabiah emblem (Guri doll) and the Israel Postal Office issued, in the best of its tradition, a new stamp, dedicated this time to relay runners, a team sport, requiring teamwork. On the stamp, designed by Dani Zilberman, relay runner #13 is passing the baton to relay runner #14, symbolizing the passing of the Maccabiahs Bar Mitzvah to the present one, #14.
The World Zionist Organization of the Jewish Agency, with the participation of Maccabi World Union leadership, developed a number of activities to encourage Aliyah, including: entertainment and cultural events, visiting homes of Israeli families, trips to become acquainted with the land, seminars and workshops to enrich the participants understanding and knowledge of Judaism and Zionism, festive meals and Sabbath songs.
The Maccabiah participants visited the new bus station in Tel Aviv fully one and a half months prior to its official opening, and enjoyed a well organized evening of Middle Eastern belly dancers, songs of Eretz Israel and typical Israeli cuisine.
The ten days of games and events culminated in the festive Closing Ceremony at the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem, attended by the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Yitzchak Rabin and the Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek.
The artistic part of the ceremony consisted of a classification rendition, with the participation of the Oratorio Choir of Jerusalem, Zahal (IDF) Orchestra and the Jerusalem Nitzanay M’chola (dance) group. The Closing Ceremony was signed off in a magnificent laser-light show, fireworks and the mass dancing of the hora, and at the end the dousing of the Maccabiah torch, followed by the departure of hundreds of athletes to Ben Gurion Airport for their return flight home, in great anticipation of the next Maccabiah.
- Darren Shongold (10.74 seconds in 100 meters)
- the American athlete Jennifer Frank (12.26 seconds for 100 meters
- Vadim Baviko
- Alex Feingret achieved impressive records in their javelin throwing with distances of 76.44 meters and 75.6 meters.
- Isareli Orit Kolodoni set a new record in the 400 meter run (54.27 seconds) on the
- Itai Margalit secured his world record in Stuttgart with his vault jumping of 2.25 meters.
- The Ethiopian-Canadian athlete, Josef Kobir, won three Gold Medals at this Maccabiah in the 1,500, 5000 and 10,000 meter runs.
Joining the Party: Countries who participated for the first time
- For the first time, since the establishment of the State of Israel, contingents arrived from Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and eight republics of the CIS. Croatia, Georgia and Portugal participated in the Maccabiah for the first time
- The South African team returned and appeared under the South African flag, with the fall of apartheid and removal of the ban by the international community on the country.
- Seven-seven athletes and their escorts came from Turkey, after a gap of twenty four years, representing the Constantinople branch of Maccabi World Union (the first Maccabi Club) that had renewed its activities after many dormant years.
- Three athletes from Hong Kong appeared for the last time under the flag of their state.
Say Hello: New Sports Competition
- netball (women)
- triathlon (1.5 kilomters swimming, 10 kilometers running and 40 kilometers biking)
- half marathon run
Saying Goodbye: Categories From Previous Maccabiot That Were Left Out
- pole vaulting
- hammer throw
- 10,000 meter run,