GB stars sparkle on world stage
Dream team: Adam Black and Ian Mablin (below) took bronze in the Masters doubles and finished fourth in the team event at the Maccabiah
It was not just the footballers, rugby team, track and field athletes and squash players who put in medal winning performances for Team GB at the Maccabiah Games.
Led by Robin Ashleigh, Britain’s table tennis delegation brought home two bronze medals in an event featuring several world ranked players.
Ashley Stokes, Dov Katz, Adam Laws and Keith Lesser came up trumps in the Open Team event while Adam Black and Ian Mablin finished third in the Masters Team competition.
The team hit the ground running in the Open category with victories over Greece and France, whose team containing former world top 50 player Olivier Marmurek. The only defeat in the group stages came at the hands of eventual gold medallists Russia, 3-1. GB were up against quality opposition in the face of Russian number 39 and former world 493 Gueorgye Rubinctheine, Evgeny Braynin and Alexsander Sherman.
Austria were put to the sword in the quarter-finals with Stokes, Lesser and Laws steering GB through to set up a last four clash against hot favourites Israel.
Lining up against Australia for the bronze medal playoff, Guy Fainbloom, ranked in the top 20 nationally, proved too strong for Stokes and Laws but the Aussies were left bemoaning their lack of depth after comfortable wins for Stokes over Dion Besser and Lesser against Barak Mizrachi tied the scores at 2-2. Laws to show his class in the decider with a straight sets victory over Besser to claim bronze, GB’s first men’s open team medal for almost 30 years, excluding the Intifada games of 2001.
Highlights of the individual events included a run to the quarter-finals for Stokes, where he was beaten 4-1 by Ben Ari, the eventual runner-up to Marmurek. Laws won a marathon seven-set thriller against Austrian Jair Zelmanovics before going down to world 888 Israeli Niv Bogen 4-1 in the last 32. Katz was also involved in a seven setter, losing in the round of 32 to American Adam Formal. Lesser beat Kazakhstan’s Roman Dokuv on his way to the last 16 where he was beaten by Russian Alexander Ellinsin.
There was also success for the Masters’ team of Adam Black and Ian Mablin. They took bronze in the doubles with a superb performance against the top Over 40s from Australia.
The pair missed out on a medal in the team event, losing in the bronze playoff to Brian Wright and Jeremy Banks of Scotland.
Coached and managed by Jade Blasse, the GB junior team also put in a strong performance. The boys team of Raphael Marom, Jonny Khedair and Dean Clyne finished in fourth. In the singles, Marom lost out in five sets against the eventual winner from Uzbekistan. Hannah Kingsley and Julia Josephs came up against some tough opponents in the junior girls event finishing fourth behind Israel, Russia and South Africa.
GB table tennis manager Robin Ashleigh said: “As well as some fantastic results in the playing arena containing world-ranked and internationally renowned players, the squad can be extremely proud of the way in which they displayed outstanding sportsmanship and upheld the Olympic spirit throughout a truly world-class competition.”