GB stars ready to sparkle on the big stage in Vienna

By Danny Caro, June 30, 2011

The talking is almost over. Training schedules have been completed, the bags are packed and the kit is in pristine condition for the biggest Jewish sporting event of the year.

Over the next few days, all eyes will be on Vienna where the Team GB squad will be giving their all at the 13th European Maccabi Games.

It promises to be a true celebration of Jews from all walks of life with the GB open football squad including a barrister, a dentist and a croupier.

The competition officially gets under way on Tuesday, with the opening ceremony held a day later.

GB are sending more than 200 athletes, competing in badminton, basketball, bridge, fencing, football, futsal, golf, squash, swimming, tennis and table tennis. In total, there will be more than 35 nations featuring 2,000 competitors across 19 sports.

Having claimed bronze at the last EMG in Rome four years ago and silver at the Maccabiah Games in 2011, there is a strong sense of belief in the football camp that their time has come. No doubt, they are going for gold in a nine-team field and I expect them to rise to the challenge.

Ben Winston has put together arguably the strongest squad GB has ever taken to an EMG. It has pace, it has power and it looks well-balanced. The challenge now is to hit the ground running, perform on the big stage and believe.

I'm sure that Winston and his coaching staff will tell the team to take one game at a time and focus first and foremost on getting out of the group.

Striker James Gershfield won the golden boot in Italy and big things are expected from him once more. The guile of Adam Stolerman combined with the pace of Daran Bern and Matt Stock could put a smile on the faces of British football fans at long last.

It is also time for the Open futsal squad to step up. Manager Jonny Cohen has been putting the squad through their paces for several months and they look solid from back to front. Steve Summers and Jamie Wolfson have had excellent seasons for their clubs and both are capable of taking Europe by storm.

Marc Brenner continued his rapid climb up the golfing ladder with victory in the Abridge Cup at the John Rubens Tournament at Hartsbourne last week. He spearheads a five-man junior golf squad that will be looking to impress at Fontana Golf Club.

Big things are also expected of Zak Zilesnick in table tennis, while Gary Ellis will be looking to repeat his record-breaking efforts in Rome. David Lazarus is another strong medal contender.

Much of the squad has been chosen with a view to Israel 2013 and I expect some of the familiar faces to shine while the next generation looks to catch the eye.

My six to watch:

● Open football: Daran Bern
● Open futsal: Jamie Wolfson
● Junior golf: Marc Brenner
● Squash: David Lazarus
● Junior table tennis: Zak Zilesnick
● Ten pin bowling: Gary Ellis

Last updated: 3:36pm, June 30 2011