Good medal haul for SA in Israel

Going into the second week of the Maccabi Games in Tel Aviv, Israel, the South African delegation have already earned five gold medals, equalling the total won at the previous Games in 2001.

Greg Smith defended his 2001 victory in the Masters golf event played at the par-73 Caesaria course, just holding off compatriot Selwyn Nathan and Israeli Znati Nissam by one shot.

The Killarney player ended on a total of 303 for the four rounds on a tricky course that has a course record of just 69.

In the triathlon event, South Africa ended up with two golds, one silver and a bronze. Mark Sack won the 30-to-34 age group in a time of two hours, five minutes and 5,8 seconds for the 1 500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. His brother, Clive, came second behind Argentina’s Sebastian Sucari in the 35-to-39 age group in 2:13:05,40 to win silver.

In the 40-to-44 age group, South Africa’s Leon Tobias took gold in 2:14:55,15, nearly two full minutes ahead of second-placed Yaron Ram of Israel.

The final medal went to Basil Kletz in the 55-to-59 age group, who finished third to Israelis Baruch Keren and Yuval Rotem in 2:38:55,15 to win bronze.

One of the revelations of the South African team has been 16-year-old athlete David Bernstein, who has walked off with gold in both the junior 100m and 200m events.
The youngster was regarded by many to be a useful but raw talent who would battle to do well against the older boys in the junior events.

However, Bernstein showed his opposition a clean pair of heels, as they say in horse-racing parlance, to win both events with authority.

There are certainly many more gold medals in the offing. The Adam Bacher-led men’s cricket team are marching relentlessly towards Wednesday’s final, having won all their matches with authority.

The juniors, too, have been a revelation and remain unbeaten in four matches to date. They have no Bacher in their side, but they deserve the gold medal for their enthusiasm alone.

Their captain, Capetonian Ryan Kulber, has led his side with authority from the start of the tournament and their 10-wicket victory over Britain stamped their class against a team that were considered a strong contender for the title.

The South African rugby team are through to the semifinals against Israel and if all goes according to plan, they are likely to meet the United States in Wednesday evening’s final, which would be a repeat of the 1997 and 2001 tournaments.

In 1997, the US won the title but four years later the Jewish Boks took gold.

The open golf event begins on Sunday and two of South Africa’s leading young golfers—Darren Blair and Stacy Bregman—are expecting to do well in the respective men’s and women’s events.

The men’s soccer team move into the play-off stages of the tournament unbeaten, but there was a sad end to the under-18 campaign when they lost their quarterfinal match to Sweden 5-4 on penalties after the encounter ended in a 2-2 stalemate.—Sapa

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