Wizard of Oz makes history

By Dan Goldberg, July 30, 2009

An Australian golfer has rewritten the history books by competing in his ninth consecutive Games.

Roy Vandersluis, 62, was not content just to participate; he also won his first ever gold medal — something that has eluded him since 1977.

He was part of the Masters golf team that claimed gold – Australia’s first at the Games – at Caesarea Golf Club, beating America and South Africa.

He shot a final round of 72, the best card of the tournament. He also won silver for his individual score.

His previous best was silver in 1989. He missed out on gold when his opponent sunk a 50-foot putt on the 18th.

“Winning gold at the Maccabiah will remain one of the highlights of my life,” said the Sydney antiques dealer.

He had been selected by Maccabi Australia to be the flagbearer for the team at the opening ceremony in recognition of his unrivalled feat.

Ahead of the Games, he said: “I had such a good time in 1977, I always said I’d keep going back provided I was chosen, and unless I was dead or bankrupt.

“Meeting fabulous people over the years and travelling to their countries, you just make very, very good friendships. I always remember thinking this is an experience I’ve got to make happen every four years.

The end of the Games signalled a new beginning for two other Australian athletes. Sydney-based footballers Adam Joseph, 28, and Rebecca Sheridan, 24, announced their engagement after the closing ceremony.

“I waited until the Games were over, Joseph said. “In fact, the first busloads are already on their way back to Australia. We were walking on the Tel Aviv beach and I pulled the ring out of my pocket.”

They met at the 17th Maccabiah in 2005.

Last updated: 11:20am, July 31 2009