If there’s one sport that Jews are good at right now, it’s table tennis. There was a real sense of optimism about the sport in Vienna last summer when I was around the table (no pun intended) with the likes of Dov Katz, Lee Vandermolen and Eli Baraty at the European Maccabi Games and it’s clear to see why.
At both Junior and Open level, there are a plethora of players who hold national rankings and the signs look good going into next year’s Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Team GB claimed a record medal haul in the sport in Vienna and if you’re not interested in the football finals at Wingate & Finchley on Sunday, I advise you to get down to the Harefield Academy to see some of the top stars in action at the MGB Table Tennis Championships.
Baraty is the top seed in the Open category where, if all goes according to plan, he should play Keith Lesser in the final.
The other seeds – Matt Spero, Ivan Lewis, Rafi Marom, Jeremy Banks and Guy Ben-Aroya – will be looking to impress while it will be interesting to see who Katz performs following the arrival of his new baby boy, James.
The sleepless nights and dirty nappies have affected even the best sportsman but I’m sure Dov will be looking to get as much shut-eye as possible in the build-up to the big event.
Indeed, young James could be described as a Maccabiah baby. He is a great advert for Jewish continuity after Dov met wife Perry in Tel Aviv at the 2009 Games. That was certainly one match made in heaven.
There will also be an array of talent in the Junior Boys and Cadet event with wonder kids Jack Joseph and Zach Mandel among the ones to watch.
The championships have been put together by Maccabi GB National Table Tennis chairman Mel Davidson for the 10 consecutive year.
* Spare a thought for Richard Bronzite. He’s taking part in a bike ride to Sicily, raising funds for Norwood. By his own admission, Richard isn’t the fittest person so it will be interesting to see how he copes with four days on the bike and one of hiking, especially with Mount Etna erupting earlier this week. He’s participating in the even along with Rob Gold and 40 other professionals.
* Good luck to the Team GB squad travelling to Marseille to defend their European Maccabi Football Trophy this weekend.
The team completed their preparations with victory over a combined North London Raiders team last weekend while their fund-raising efforts were there for everyone to see at last weekend’s Anekstein Cup final. With the London Inter-League Cup not taking place this season, it’s a real chance for players from the lower divisions to sparkle on the big stage.