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Area Athletes Return, Triumphant
Who's up for a victory lap?
Thousands of athletes from more than 60 nations competed in the 18th World Maccabiah Games in Israel, the quadrennial "Jewish Olympics," which ran from July 12 to July 23.
The games had a number of highlights, not least of which were the participation by Olympic swimmer Jason Lezak, who won two gold medals, and a momentous overtime victory -- 95-86 -- against Israel by the USA Open Men's Basketball team.
All told, Team USA -- both individual competitors and teams -- brought home 264 medals, including 86 gold, 99 silver and 79 bronze.
Team Israel roped in a total of 248 gold medals, 222 silvers and 175 bronzes.
Among the medalists from the local area was Jeff Weinstein, 20, of Philadelphia, who won a bronze in open track and field, specifically the 10,000-meter run.
While the 6.2-mile race itself was held in Tel Aviv, Weinstein got the chance to train for it in Jerusalem, which he described as "surreal," having made 8-mile practice runs through the Old City.
One thing that surprised him as a runner, he said, was how hilly the terrain is: "Jerusalem makes San Francisco look like nothing in terms of hills," said the cross-country runner from the University of Pennsylvania.
Attorney David Pudlin of Bryn Mawr has competed a few times, but this experience was extra special, he said, because he came away with a gold medal in Men's Masters Squash.
"Winning was great," said Pudlin, 60, but even more fun was hanging around with so many other Jewish squash players. "It was like being with your long lost cousins from all over the world."
Brian Schiff of Exton has coached boys basketball at the games in Israel and at the Pan American games for a total of six times, and with each, he's captured a gold.
This month, it was no different: Schiff, 56, led the USA contingent of the Junior Boys' Basketball team onto the podium, beating Israel in the final.
The coach said that this will probably be his last stint leading the team.
He noted that he may lend a hand in future games, but will probably pass the whistle on to another.
But going out on top, he said, "is a good feeling."
Local winners competing in individual events at the games include the following, based on information provided by Maccabi USA:
Gregory Kaplan, Philadelphia, Rowing (two medals)
Michael Katin, Malvern, Rowing (two medals)
Caroline Post, Wayne, Rowing (four medals)
David Pudlin, Bryn Mawr, Squash
Benjamin Ginsberg, Cheltenham, Cycling
Danielle Kamis, Philadelphia, Fencing (two medals)
Brian Roberts, Flourtown, Squash
Ryan Strauss, Philadelphia, Rowing
Marlee Ehrlich, Cherry Hill, N.J., Swimming
Max Ettore, Medford, N.J., Swimming
Zachary Hammond, Mays Landing, N.J., Wrestling (two medals)
Samuel Mangel, Jenkintown, Cycling
Jennifer Newman, Haverford, Tennis
Jeff Weinstein, Philadelphia, Track and Field