It was the night of Australian Jewish sport’s nights on June 2nd as Daniel Garb hosted the inaugural combined National, NSW and Victorian Maccabi Sport Awards ceremony online.
Up-and-coming snooker and billiards player Marc Fridman, the reigning Victorian Under-21 State Champion, was named Victorian Jewish Sportsman of the Year.
And 400m sprinter Steve Solomon – who reached the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics with a PB time of 44.94, his first PB since the London 2012 Olympics – won the relevant NSW and national awards .
In a video message, Solomon said that at the competition he “feels very strongly that I represent Australia, my family, the Jewish community and Maccabi.
“Sport is such a vehicle for growth and it’s great to see Maccabi recognizing and prioritizing that.”
The 29-year-old added that after the disappointment of missing the 2016 Olympics by four hundredths of a second, returning to career-best form in Tokyo depends on the value of perseverance, “and it gives me renewed energy at the end of my career.” .
Whitewater paddler Jessica Fox – who triumphantly won her first Olympic gold medal at her third Tokyo Olympics – was named NSW and National Jewish Sportswoman of the Year.
The Victorian winner was Jemima Montag, who finished sixth in her first ever Olympic women’s 20K in Tokyo and recently broke a 22-year-old Australian record set by Jane Saville.
The Maccabi Australia President’s Award went to the Jewish athletes who represented Australia in Tokyo – Fox, Solomon Montag, paraswimmer Matt Levy and judoka Nathan Katz.
In video messages, Montag and Levy thanked Maccabi for their support, and Montag celebrated Maccabi as “coming to the starting line, giving it your all, making friends, and enjoying and reaping the physical and mental health benefits.”
The Maccabi Victorian President’s Award went to Clive Aaron and Mark Roseman who worked hard to establish Maccabi Aquatics at Bialik College and the Maccabi AJAX Swimming Club.
Levy won the NSW and National All Abilities Awards, while youth track and field athlete Ori Drabkin – who set Australian U17 and U20 T35 Para records when he won the 100m and 400m events at the Nationals – was the Victorian All Abilities Champion.
Drabkin was co-awarded NSW State Junior Sportsman of the Year along with NSW-based cyclist Brayden Bloch, who was the 2021 NSW State U19 Men’s Criterium Champion, and finished seventh in the U19 national teams.
Drabkin and Bloch both expressed ambitions to one day achieve their dreams of competing in the Paralympics and Olympics, respectively.
“I’m going to start with the Worlds next year and try that first,” said Drabkin.
Bloch added, “My dad, Sean, was an Olympic cyclist … and I thought I wanted to do the same — that’s how it all started.”
The 2021 Victorian Jewish Junior Athlete of the Year is the 64kg Victorian Weightlifter, Youth, Junior and Under-23 Division Champion Layla Bloom and the NSW and National Winner is the Under-16 Girls National, NSW and 2021 ACT Javelin Champion, Tali Baltineshter.
Bloom and Baltineshter will represent Australia in junior competition at the 21st Maccabiah Games in Israel next month.
“I’ve been focusing on my technique so I can peak at Maccabiah and hopefully come back with gold,” said Baltineshter.
She was also the recipient of the Maccabi Australia Rudi Roth Scholarship 2022 worth US$5000.
Meyer Vorchheimer, the 75-79 Victorian Masters men’s 60 meter sprint champion, won the Victorian and National Masters Sportsman of the Year award.
Professor Paul Zimmett won the first Maccabi Life National Wellbeing Award and the first Maccabi National Outstanding Service Award was shared by the heads of the Australian delegation to the Maccabiah Games 2022, Sam Gamsu and Giselle Berlinski.
“It’s a team effort, so this award really goes to all our volunteers,” Gamsu said.
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