High-ho, there’s a silver lining

By Danny Caro, August 21, 2008

No golds for British Jew, but giant Josh (all 6ft 9ins of him) gets the next best thing, writes Graham Morrison in Beijing

Josh West, the only Jewish - and, at 6ft 9 in, the tallest - athlete on the British team in Beijing, has won silver in the rowing eights.

"It sure makes up for Athens," said West. "It was great to be on the podium."

The crew were disappointed not to win gold as they had formulated what they thought would be the race plan to see off the Canadians, their main threat. But West, 31, was still a happy man: "We were out there racing for gold, but silver is still amazing."

The British team though, unable to catch the Canadians, fought off the American challenge and crossed the line accompanied by roars of encouragement in second place with 5:25.11, just 1.22 seconds behind.

A two-time World Championship silver medallist, West is also a four-time Cambridge Blue.

Second in the women's 50m freestyle, American Dara Torres has no plans to continue competing, at least for now. She plans to spend time with her family after winning her 10th Olympic medal.

The 41-year-old, the oldest US swimmer at the Games, became the oldest swimmer ever to win an Olympic medal. Winning a medal at 41 is a remarkable achievement, especially as the swimmer she beat into third place, Australian Cate Campbell, was only 16.

With a time of 24.06, Torres only missed the gold by 100th of a second to the German Britta Steffen. "It was tough to lose," she said. "I realise I shouldn't have filed my nails last night."

Finding an acceptable balance between family and training at Olympic level is hard but "what I've done is to show them [in middle age] that you can do it."

Torres, from Coral Springs, Florida, won nine medals including four golds, from previous Olympics, the first being Seoul 1988. In Beijing, as well as the 50m freestyle, she won silver at both the 4x100m medley relay and 4x100m freestyle relay.

Jason Lezak, who last week became the first Jewish athlete to win gold, collected bronze in the 100-metres freestyle.

The 32-year-old, who is the oldest male swimmer to ever qualify for an Olympic team, said: "That's what's been driving me for the past four years since Athens. It definitely feels good."

A gold medal eluded Sada Jacobson in fencing as the US women's sabre team lost their semi-final encounter with the Ukraine. She had to settle for bronze as, in the fight off for third place, they defeated France.

Deena Kastor, bronze medallist at the 2004 Games, failed to finish the women's marathon after breaking her right foot.

New Zealand's Jo Aleh fell agonisingly short of a medal in Laser Radial sailing competition.

She is the daughter of an Israeli father and Kiwi mother who had made aliyah before returning to Auckland where Aleh is studying for an engineering degree.

Australia's only Jewish Olympian David Zacberg, a survivor of the 1997 Maccabiah bridge disaster, failed to win a wrestling match.

South African Shaun Rubenstein bowed out in the semi-finals of the single kayak 500m.

Last updated: 2:56pm, August 21 2008