Mac­cabiah stan­dards: onwards and upwards, or de­cline & fall?

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

I re­fer to Ed­die Ed­wards’s re­sponse to James Espir’s high­light­ing the de­cline in stan­dards and sport­ing ex­cel­lence at the Mac­cabiah Games.

I would not pre­sume to com­ment on sport­ing dis­ci­plines other than ath­let­ics but I sus­pect that what James wrote would ap­ply across the board.

The plain truth is that the Games, apart from its in­ter­est to Jews only, has lost its sta­tus in the wider pan­theon of in­ter­na­tional sport and is no longer recog­nised by sports gov­ern­ing bod­ies such as the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee and IAAF as an of­fi­cial Area Games or Cham­pi­onship.

The Games have been ‘’dumbed down’’ over the years by the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee over-stress­ing that “tak­ing part’’ is more im­por­tant than good per­for­mance and this has led to a low­er­ing of stan­dards mor­ph­ing what was once re­garded as the “Jewish Olympics’’ into a gi­ant fes­ti­val or Jam­boree of Jewish Youth.

Maybe this is no bad thing, but let us not kid our­selves that we are see­ing the cream of Jewish ath­letes. Even the best Is­raeli ath­letes do not ap­pear to be in­ter­ested and as far as I could ob­serve, only one gen­uine world-class ath­lete, Is­raeli javelin thrower, Mar­garyta Dorozhon, com­peted.

It seems to me that se­lec­tion for present teams de­pends mainly not on ath­letic abil­ity but on the abil­ity to raise an in­or­di­nate amount of money to pay for the trip.

Mr Ed­wards com­plains about James Espir “in­sult­ing’’ Mac­cabiah com­peti­tors, but he in­sults Mr Espir in ques­tion­ing his achieve­ments as a Ju­nior.

I know Mr Ed­wards is no ath­let­ics his­to­rian but James was AAA Ju­nior cham­pion in­doors and out­doors at 3,000 me­tres in the early 1980s when Bri­tish mid­dle dis­tance run­ning was at its zenith, com­pet­ing with the likes of Seb Coe and Steve Ovett. He also rep­re­sented the coun­try.

In case some read­ing this let­ter might ques­tion the con­clu­sion that the Mac­cabiah has lost its sta­tus I would like to re­mind the read­ers of some of the stars of past Great Bri­tain teams, all ‘’pukka’’ in­ter­na­tion­als and Mac­cabiah Gold Medal­lists: Harry Kane, Olympian, AAA Cham­pion and Bri­tish Record Holder at 400m Hur­dles.

Dave Se­gal, Olympic, European and Com­mon­wealth Games medal­list, AAA Cham­pion and Bri­tish 200m record holder. Ray Rose­man, first Jewish four minute miler.

Lisa Goreeph, European Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships, GB sprint medal­list and dou­ble sprint gold medal­list at the Mac­cabiah in 1985.

Wal­ter Ni­cholls,

Chair­man of the Am­a­teur Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion, Tech­ni­cal Of­fi­cial at Mac­cabiah Games, 1969 and 1989 and Great Bri­tain Team Man­ager at Mac­cabiah in 1985

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