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August 20, 2014 By:
Philly-Based Israeli Diplomat Proves Seaworthy at Gay Games
Elad Strohmayer, Israel’s deputy consul general to Philadelphia and the mid-Atlantic region, set sail into the record books last week.
And he’s got the gold to prove it.
A native of Bat-Yam, Israel, Strohmayer, 33, has just returned from the international Gay Games, the 9th quadrennial event, this time held in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, with a gold medal.
He was part of a winning international sailing team, competing alongside mates from Australia and Ohio.
This was Strohmayer’s first time taking part in the Gay Games and his first gold honor.
The lifelong sailor shares a passion for the sport along with his family back in Israel — his parents as well as his brother, Eyal, a sailing instructor.
Collectively, the contingent of seven Israeli athletes, along with three artists and a duo of task force representatives of the Israel LGBT movement, took home 10 medals for the Jewish state. (Unlike Strohmayer, the others competed in individual sports representing Israel.)
“It’s amazing,” Strohmayer said of winning as a representative of both Israel and of the Israeli gay community.
These may be rough times for Israel and its media image around the world, he acknowledged, but the international games — attracting athletes primarily from Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand — put such problems on the back burner for the moment, burnishing the Israel image with a high gloss.
The reception accorded him and the other Israeli athletes in Cleveland and Akron was heart-warming, said Strohmayer, who has served in his current diplomatic capacity for the past two years.
The crowds applauded his victory as well as those of his teammates.
“People were excited to meet us,” he said. “At the opening ceremonies, when Israel marched in, there were cheers! The crowds were happy that we all came.”
As were the other athletes, with 50 nations represented by some 8,000 athletes in competitions ranging from badminton to synchronized swimming to wrestling/grappling.
“There was a lot of camaraderie, and, you know, sailing is an intense competition,” Strohmayer said of the sailing event, a series of races on Lake Erie, skirting the Edgewater Yacht Club.
The games were the brainchild of the late Dr. Tom Waddell, a Paterson, N.J., native who implemented the competition in 1982 in San Francisco as the Gay Olympics.
He was forced to change the name in the wake of legal action from the United States Olympic Committee.
Has the sailing victory whet Strohmayer’s appetite for the next Gay Games?
“We’ll see,” said the seaworthy diplomat. “That’s in four years, in Paris. A lot can happen in four years.”