They were written off from the start — told they would be “massacred” if they reached the final against favourites Israel.
But Team GB’s Under-16 soccer stars defied all odds to claim gold and make Maccabiah Games history by defeating Israel 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out.
And their efforts epitomised the spirit of everyone in Team GB in a glorious two weeks of sporting excellence.
Two sets of brothers, Clark and Jake Norton and Teddie and Levi Levenfiche from Hampstead Garden Suburb made
it a real family affair with two golds, a silver and a bronze between them.
Under-16 soccer boys Jake and Teddie, who suffered a fractured wrist in his first match, played in the gold winning team, while Clark won silver in the Under-18 rugby and Levi a bronze in the Under-18 football.
The biggest-ever Maccabiah ended with an impressive closing ceremony at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium on Tuesday night. Britain ended up with a 31-medal haul of six golds, eight silver and 17 bronze, while Israel, the largest team, topped the table with over 400 medals, and the USA, the largest overseas team, won more than
Among the British gold winners was richard Moss who won the mixed doubles tennis playing with a South African partner Jacqui Boyd.
"He said: "The games were very competitive and I was impressed by the standard of players. It was very tough with at least six or seven men players with ATP points.
"I lost in the quarter-finals of both the men’s singles and doubles, so it was a great feeling to come good in the mixed doubles. It was a very close game and we won on a tie-break in the third set so that made it feel all the more exciting."
Johannesburg-born Moss, 29, immigrated to England and now lives in Islington where he recently founded an architectural design firm.
He had previously represented South Africa in the 2001 games when he won bronze in the men’s singles.
"I think the standard has risen over the years but the strong community feeling of the games, and the good-natured sense of competition has remained the same."
Other gold medal winners included Ellie Edwards in the girl’s junior 200 metres, which she added to two bronzes in the 100 meters and the 4x100 meters mixed relay.
Sam Shindler-Glass took gold in the boy’s junior 800 metres to add to a silver medal in the 1500 metres while
Joshua Paris and Rebecca Smaller won gold in the junior mixed doubles tennis.
Paris also won the silver medal in the boys’ singles and Smaller won bronze in the girls’ singles. There were also gold medals for the junior netball team.
This last gold was particularly sweet for the British team’s netball coach Gemma Caplan, a 21-year-old student at Leeds University who comes from Whetstone.
"In the last Maccabiah, I was in the team that won the silver medal losing to Australia in the final," she said. "So this time it was fantastic to avenge that defeat with a 47-44 win over Australia in the final.
"This was the first netball game that Australia has ever lost in the entire history of the Maccabiah. The lead kept changing but we fought hard and showed enormous character. The girls did us really proud.”
Britain’s cricket team took bronze in a nail-biting playoff match against India, while there were silver medals for the junior cricket team, the junior rugby team, and the junior futsal team and the Masters’ football team won bronze.
In closing the ceremony, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: “Take this experience back home with you and remember you are all ambassadors of Jerusalem.”
One memorable moment of the Games came when Team GB’s open futsal team took time out on Monday morning to pay a visit to the Kotel – and see one of their team members barmitzvahed.
Ricky Engleman, 22, donned tefillin and got called up in front of his father, members of the futsal open team and Maccabi GB delegates.
Trying to put into words how he felt, he said: “I spoke about it over the last couple of days with David Kyte [Head of Team GB delegation] and it was a great opportunity to get it done here in Jerusalem of all places.
"So I decided to take that opportunity and do it."