JERUSALEM — Canada’s entry at the 17th Maccabiah Games wrapped up this country’s most successful performance at a Maccabiah since the Games began in 1932, but the focus wasn’t entirely on awards.
While many saw success in the team’s record number of 59 medals, surpassing Canada’s previous high of 50, others pointed proudly to the dozens of Canadian personal-best performances against some of the top Jewish athletes in the world.
Canada’s medal total included nine gold, 17 silver and 33 bronze in four categories – open, masters, junior and youth.
Of the 55 countries competing, only Israel, the United States and Russia earned more medals than Canada at the Games, held in Israel from July 10 to 21.
Canadian flag-bearer Sharon Fichman of Toronto may have summed it up best for the Canadian team of 400 athletes, coaches and support staff.
Fichman, a 14-year old tennis player ranked as one of the best in the world for her age, listed her gold medal performance in the open women’s singles final among her list of accomplishments at the Games.
Surprisingly, though, it wasn’t at the top.
“I represented my religion and my country,” she said outside the Jerusalem Tennis Center, minutes after beating highly touted 23-year-old Nicole Ptak of the United States 6-2, 6-2 for the gold medal.
“These Games are not just all about sports, but meeting people, learning about culture and building friendship. Being the No. 1 Jewish female tennis player in the world is also not too shabby.”
Fichman confirmed she would be turning pro when she returned to Canada. She is entered in this month’s Rogers Cup in Toronto, a tier one event on the World Tennis Association professional tour.
Battling a viral infection and a mild fever in the days leading up to the final, Fichman didn’t let up. She finished the singles competition undefeated.
Fichman, who also won a bronze medal in women’s doubles, wrapped up the tennis event with a silver in a thrilling finish to the mixed doubles final. She teamed with Oran Belillti of Richmond Hill, Ont., but they lost to a team from South Africa 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.
In other events, Canadian track and field athletes took top spot with 19 medals, including five in the triathlon.
Canadian karate competitors earned a dozen medals, followed by tennis competitors with 11.
Promising junior-age athletes Nataliya Muntyanova, a karate star from Richmond Hill, and track athlete Emma Pink of Halifax each won five medals.
Thornhill, Ont.’s Adam Eilath and Daniel Einhorn of Vancouver, the only Canadians competing in swimming and wrestling respectively, each won a pair of medals. Einhorn won gold in open freestyle wrestling in the 84-kilogram weight class.
“We had a team of quality athletes and it showed,” said Allen Gerskup, head of Canada’s delegation. “You’re up against many elite athletes from around the world and to do so well is a credit to these fine young people, their coaches and families.”
Track and field
Open: Judith Elfassy, half marathon, gold medal, 1,500 metres, silver medal;
Deborah Calman Lightman, 400-metres, bronze medal, 800 metres, bronze medal;
Roy Argand, 400 metres, bronze medal;
Joshua Wolfe, 800 metres, bronze medal;
Arjay Brecher, half marathon, mixed, bronze medal.
Juniors: Darrian Molly Tissenbaum,100 metres, bronze medal.
Emma Pink, 200 metres, silver medal.
Juniors: Natalia Muntyanova, kumite over 53 kg, gold medal, kata, gold medal, open weight, bronze medal;
Maria Laura Flamengo, kumite up to 53 kg, silver medal;
Alexander Wasserman, kumite over 50 kg, gold medal;
Alon Zohar, kata, bronze medal.
Open: Jaime Lyn Yamanaka, kata individual, gold medal;
Anastasia Shchipillo, kumite up to 53 kg, gold medal, kata individual, bronze medal.
Women, kumite team, silver medal;
Joseph Schlesinger, open weight, bronze medal.
Open: Lisa Abush, gold medal;
Howard Sculnick, gold medal;
Hirsh Schnayer, Howard Dinetz, Howard Sculnick, trios, silver medal.
Open: Joshua Riff, ages 30-34, silver medal;
Michael Bregman, ages 50-54, gold medal.
Shawna Novak, ages 25-29, bronze medal;
Elise Yanover, ages 35-39, silver medal.
Juniors: male, team silver medal.
Juniors: girls team, silver medal;
boys team, 17- and 18-year-olds, bronze medal;
boys team, 15- and 16-year-olds, bronze medal.
Masters: male team over 40, bronze medal.
Open: male team, bronze medal.
Open: Aaron Pfeffer, 66 kg and up, bronze medal.
Juniors: Michael Leger, 81 kg and up, bronze medal.
Open: Daniel Einhorn, freestyle 84 kg, gold medal.
Masters: Andrea Kraus, singles over 45, bronze medal;
Juniors: Valeriya Dandik and Mia Gordon, doubles, bronze medal.
Open: men’s team, silver medal.