Team GB have made a strong start in an enthralling 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel with an eight medal haul.
With Israel and the US, the two biggest teams, battling out for top place in the medal table, British participants have also been frequently seen on the podium with medals won in fencing, badminton, rowing and swimming in the early days of competition.
Maccabi GB delegation head David Kyte said: “We are delighted with our haul of medals so far and it would be great if we could add to the tally over the next week. Having suffered a series of injuries in the first few days, we hope that the medical team have a quiet second week.”
Guy Cohen won Britain’s first medal with a bronze in the men’s epee followed by the junior fencing team of Richard Bernstein, Joel Crowne and Leo Gundle, who took bronze in the foil and silver in the sabre.
David Garcia won two medals in the junior badminton with a bronze in the boys’ singles consolation draw and a bronze in the doubles with Aaron Miller.
In the pool there were two early British medals with Naomi Ayrton winning bronze in the mixed team 4x200 metres women’s freestyle relay and Adam Warner also taking a bronze in the mixed team 4x200 metres men’s freestyle relay. And on Wednesday there was a bronze for the rowing pair of Simon Kay and Rob Williams.
Kyte added: “Our current success does not rest with our medal-winners. There have been a number of impressive performances which bode well for the rest of the competition.”
Among those performances was the rugby team, which hopes to go one better than the silver medal won in 2009 when beaten in the final by Israel. On Sunday, Britain hammered Canada 55-0 and then on Tuesday beat the US 19-10 to top their group and earn a semi-final place.
Above and beyond the sporting events, the Maccabiah provided a spectacular opening ceremony last week at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium when a record 9,000 athletes from 32 countries paraded before 32,000 spectators.
American gymnast Aly Raisman, a double gold medallist at London 2012, was given the honour of lighting the Maccabiah flame and there were pre-recorded messages from Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama who said that the “Maccabiah is a great reminder of the power of sports to bring people together and inspire the best in all of us”.
Kyte said: “I know that all of our competitors are enjoying this experience and nothing sums up the Maccabiah Games more than Jewish athletes from around the world hugging, shaking hands and posing for pictures together. These, along with the sport, are what our delegation will bring home to the UK.”