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Local Athletes Score Big at Vienna Games

July 28, 2011
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From left): Philadelphia Masters Swimmer Joan Waldbaum, Masters Swimmer Jane Katz, supporter Rachel Goldblatt and Masters Swimmer Robert Benfield

The 13th European Maccabi Games, which concluded in Vienna on July 13, yielded medals for 10 local athletes. Philadelphia sent a delegation of 20 participants, including athletes, coaches and a team physician. They were part of Team USA, a contingent of some 115 athletes and coaches competing against other countries.

The event was billed as the largest gathering of Jews in Vienna since before World War II. Jed Margolis, the executive director of the Philadelphia-based Maccabi USA, said, "The games were fabulous -- historic, moving and fun. We stood with the mayor of Vienna, the president of Austria and thousands of others singing 'Hatikvah' at the opening ceremony, where Hitler stood 70 years ago, predicting that he would destroy our people. We are still going strong."

Junior Boys' Basketball beat Brazil for the gold medal. Local members of the squad included Michael Cohen, Jeremy Geiger and Austin Wetzler. Open Women's Soccer won the gold medal after defeating Germany, with locals Sarah Friedman, Alexandra Liss, Jacqueline Krevitz and Erika Winter aboard.

Competitor Joan Waldbaum, 80, of Wynnewood, competing in Masters Swimming, won two gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze for the events of freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and the medley relay. In fencing, Zachary Greenberg took home two gold medals, and Marshal Davis, also a coach for the event, won a bronze. Local Athletes Score at Vienna Games The 13th annual European Maccabi Games, which concluded in Vienna on July 13, yielded medals for 10 local athletes in the events of Junior Boys' Basketball, Open Women's Soccer, Masters Swimming and Fencing.

Jed Margolis, the executive director of the Philadelphia-based Maccabi USA, said, "The games were fabulous -- historic, moving and fun. We stood with the mayor of Vienna, the president of Austria and thousands of others singing 'Hatikvah' at the opening ceremony, where Hitler stood 70 years ago, predicting that he would destroy our people. We are still going strong."

Philadelphia sent a delegation of 20 participants, including athletes, coaches and a team physician. They were part of Team USA, a contingent of some 115 athletes and coaches competing against other countries.

The event was billed as the largest gathering of Jews in Vienna since before World War II.

The younger participants had the opportunity to explore Vienna on guided tours through the city with visits to sites such as the Sigmund Freud Museum and the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial.

"The whole city did a great job of exposing us to Vienna and the Jewish community," said Merrick Wetzler, Junior Boys' Basketball team physician.

His team beat Brazil for the gold medal. Local members of the squad included Michael Cohen, Jeremy Geiger and Austin Wetzler.

Competitor Joan Waldbaum, 80, of Wynnewood racked up a number of wins for the Philadelphia area in Masters Swimming, taking two gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze for the events of freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and the medley relay.

In fencing, Zachary Greenberg took home two gold medals for the Épée Team and the Foil Team, and Marshal Davis, also a coach for the event, took home the bronze medal for the Sabre Team.

Open Women's Soccer won the gold medal after defeating Germany, with locals Sarah Friedman, Alexandra Liss, Jacqueline Krevitz and Erika Winter aboard.

Friedman, a 22-year-old graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, said, "I loved the girls on the team. There was a mix of ages from 15 to 22, but we all got along very well. I had played with a few of the girls in Israel two summers ago. We already knew each other's styles of play so we clicked on and off the field."

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