Maccabiah / Round-up

Israeli Medals, Dutch Domination and Netballers Out of Luck

Medals were awarded Sunday in lawn bowls, field hockey and netball; Monday’s action includes a gold-medal showdown in cricket

All eight of Israel's team brought home medals at the Maccabiah's lawn bowls competition, which concluded Sunday at the Ra'anana Lawn Bowls Club.

Israel had taken the top two slots of both events last week in Ramat Gan, with Raymond Sher winning gold ahead of Haviv Takin in the singles and the team of Allan Saitowitz, Kaurence Hurwitz, David Trappler and Danny Slodovnik claiming top honors in the fours.

Colin Silberstein, Noam Yehudai, Yisrael Meushar and Selwyn Hare won silver, while the bronze went to the Australian quartet of Benjamin Kassel, Larry Berman, Derek Sevel and Michael Brown. Michael Zusman, also from Down Under, won the single's bronze.

On Sunday, it was the turn if the pairs and trips. Haviv Takin and Slodovnik won gold in the pairs, whileSilberstein, Yehudai and Israel Meushar claimed the triples gold.

The World Bowls president, Joe Aarons, attended all the matches. The first Jewish president of World Bowls, he told Haaretz that it was the natural thing to come with his wife Sue, after being elected in December. He was invited by Maurice Lavin, president of Israel Bowls.

Aarons noted he earned the Order of Australia Medal for his work with Maccabi in Victoria, in which he has been involved since 1985

He recalled he was supposed to come to the Maccabiah in 1989 but his father fell ill and he did not make it back until now. He said the game has changed over the last 25 years, starting with the outfits; instead of white outfits and ties, the players are "all in colors."

Besides developments in equipment technology and even the format for the Commonwealth Games, he noted teams have gotten younger, some teams a enraging under 30.

"It is come from the participation attitude that anyone can play," he said. "Disabled will play for medals for first the time at the Commonwealth Games."

Oranges no lemons

Orange was the dominant color in the stands at the field hockey pitch in Ra'anana on Sunday, and the Netherlands did not disappoint as its field hockey squad topped Argentina 3-2 in front of over 300 spectators.

The Dutch scored two early goals by Teddy Klooster and Yael Goudsmid, and Henriette Mansell added one more for a 3-0 halftime lead. It looked like Holland would run away with gold, but the Argentines, egged on by calls of "Chicas" from their fans, fought back.

"We had a really easy first half," explained Dutch national coach Jair Levie. "Argentina didn't reach their true level. We were very efficient in their circle. We had three chances and scored twice."

"In the second half," Levie added, "Argentina increased their press. They kept two offensive players really deep so it was hard for us to come out."

Argentina scored with some eight minutes left and suddenly gained confidence.

"They were putting pressure on the ball," Mansell told Haaretz after the game. She said the Dutch were in a tough spot because Goudsmid drew a yellow card and had to sit out ten minutes. "She's a really good player so you miss her when she is gone," said Mansell, who won gold with the Netherlands at the 2009 Games and the 2011 European Maccabiah in Vienna.

"There were a lot of free spaces and they are in good condition," said Levie. "They were much fitter in last five minutes."

Argentina scored again a few minutes later and managed a shot on goal in the final minute, but the Orange ultimately prevailed.

"There was pressure within Holland (because none of the first seven medals won by the Dutch was gold) so the whole delegation was here," added coach Levie. "Now they will treat us tonight, I think."

Netballers out of luck

Israel's open netball squad ran out of luck on Sunday, when it ran into an unstoppable Australian team. The gold medal game was decided early as the Aussies ran off to a 30-5 halftime lead en route to a 54-16 triumph.

There was an overall atmosphere of camaraderie as the nearly 400 fans stayed to the end to honor all eight junior and open teams at the medals ceremony, with the players marching on the Aviv Hall court looking at least as proud and excited as they did at the opening ceremony.

The robust crowd cheered vociferously for every Israeli goal, as well as when the home side stopped a shooting attempt, but the perennial favorites scored at a breathtaking clip.

Israel showed more spunk in the second half, even as it was outscored 12-4 in the third period, taking solace in its relative improvement on both sides of the court.

Still, the final score did not dampen the enthusiasm of Israel, which had never made it this far and takes home silver.

"It's just magical, emotional, phenomenal," said Israel's Jodi Carreira.

In today's action, Israel faces South Africa in the Gold Medal cricket open final in Ashdod. India faces Great Britain in the Bronze medal match in Lod.

Nir Keidar
Yoav Naccache "Streamer"
Yoav Naccache "Streamer"