Curtain comes down on 18th Maccabiah

By Danny Caro in Israel, July 24, 2009
The Team GB fans at the football final

The Team GB fans at the football final

There were hugs and tears of joy after new friendships had been formed and medals won, as the 18th Maccabiah Games drew to a close at Latrun in Jerusalem last night.

The official closing ceremony was an explosion of colours with athletes from rival countries trading kit and emails before flying home.

The two-week event featured a bit of everything with matches won and lost, medals handed out like hotcakes, frayed tempers , athletes visiting Israel for the first time and even some have a belated barmitzvah at the Kotel.

Team GB enjoyed a successful Games. As the final results filtered in, they had eight gold, nine silver and 13 bronze.

Richard Goodman was the most successful individual athlete with two golds in track and field.

The Over 45 Masters team claimed GB’s first football gold in over 40 years.

The respective open football, rugby and netball teams were left cursing their luck after losing in finals on the last day.

Jonathan Kestenbaum’s footballers were pipped to gold by Argentina in a nail-biting contest. Sam Sloma put GB ahead only for Argentina to level second before full-time. With no further goals in extra time, the contest was settled on penalties with Argentina running out 3-2 winners in Haifa.

The Rugby team had a late finish but were unable to repeat their round robin win over Australia, going down 19-16 in Herzliya.

There was also disappointment for the Open Netball team who lost 42-23 against Australia.

The three squads can be proud of their achievement of silver.

GB Masters were beaten 54-52 by Brazil in a fifth-place playoff. The Masters futsal team were beaten 6-4 by Argentina in the battle for bronze.

The 500-strong delegation also took home medals in rowing, table tennis, the triathlon, cricket, cycling and squash.

The footballers enjoyed their most successful return for many years with silver won in the Open and bronze in the Masters Over 35s.

Maccabi GB’s Daniel Morris described the Games as "a rollercoater of emotions. I’m just proud of Team GB."

At the closing ceremony, Israel President Shimon Peres said: “This was the best Maccabiah ever. I hope some of you fell in love with us, because we love all of you without exception.”

He named U.S. swimmer Jason Lezak and Hungarian chess player Judit Polgar the Games' outstanding athletes.

Last updated: 3:09pm, July 24 2009