Maccabiah standards: onwards and upwards, or decline & fall?
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.
Chairman of the Amateur Athletic Association, Technical Official at Maccabiah Games, 1969 and 1989 and Great Britain Team Manager at Maccabiah in 1985