The Big Day – 19th Annual Maccabiah Taekwondo Competition

Today was the big day.
The Taekwondo competition for the 2013 Maccabiah Games.
Before I start I have to say that I missed a few days because my recent memory has been dwarfed by the fact that my grandpa, Ralph, passed a few days ago. May your memory be a blessing Grandpa Ralph.
Anyway my emotions yesterday were crazy. My whole family was attending my Grandfathers funeral in Boston, while I was competing against Israel’s best Taekwondo athletes in Jerusalem. Torn is putting it mildly.
We knew that the schedule was going to be, females in the morning (10-2) and males in the afternoon (2-tbd). So I spent most of the morning trying to stay focused and keep my composure, while also supporting our wonderful female athletes. Rachel fought very well and received a gold medal. Alyssa also fought very well, but she lost to a very talented fighter and received a silver medal.
Side note: There was only one ring, which meant only one match going on at a time.
Finally we were getting close to my fight and I decided to warm up. I felt great. I was kicking the pads fast, strong and without much effort. My body was warm and I felt ready to fight.
I had already seen both of my competitors fight each other and everyone was looking at the guy who won and agreed that there was no way he was my weight. We all weighed in at the event site the day before, but we never saw any of the Israeli’s show up. We saw the French, South Africa, Hungary, Canada and US team weigh in, but not the Israelis. It’s possible that Israel “let” some people fight in certain divisions in order to fill them up because there weren’t enough athletes to guarantee everyone two fights.
Anyway, I sparred against my competitor with everything I had in me. I was a little too pumped on adrenaline (described by my teammate as looking like a Mexican jumping bean) and so I got hit with some easy shots when I moved in. Oh and the referees hate Americans and our team specifically because they dislike a few of our players. I know this is part of every tournament, but they were scoring points that didn’t hit and I think it’s because every single referee was Israeli and didn’t want the American to win. All of us had awful referee calls and the players seemed to have a lot more on the line than us. Anyway, my second fight didn’t happen because the guy bowed out to me. He said he was sick, but it’s a shame because I would have liked to have fought again. My first competitor actually treated me very sportsmanlike, thanked me after the fight, asked for a picture to be taken with us and the athlete who bowed out to me told me that he hopes to fight me someday.
So I got a silver medal at the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel. Fuck yeah.
I’m second from the left 1011381_10201601939593046_875291441_n
We all wanted Pizza so I ordered delivery from a place called Big Apple pizza. I picked it up in the lobby and told the delivery guy that I didn’t have enough cash on me but could I pay with a credit card. He said that if I wanted to pay with a credit card I’d have to call the pizza place and pay on the phone. I asked him if he wanted me to call the guy while standing in front of him and he told me that I could take the Pizzas and pay in my room. I was confused. This guy wants me to take 200 shekels worth of pizza and coke up to my room without paying and trusts me enough to call the place and pay? Geez. Do I look that straight-laced? I gave the guy a30 shekel tip and brought it up to my room and paid Duh.
Like usual everyone chilled in my room. It was great. We stayed up till 2 am laughing, drinking Maccabee Beer and Vodka cocktails and making some disgusting jokes. We also got a little sentimental, maybe because we were buzzed. I made a special toast to my grandfather. We all talked about how meaningful the trip was for us and how much we all love each other. Soft stuff. Honestly though, this has been an amazing trip for me. In spite of what the Maccabiah Games is, and I mean that sincerely. We found the Israel connect program shallow, nobody seems to care about the sporting events, the logistics are always flawed and there is virtually no Jewish content in the trip. Yet it was still a life changing experience. Maybe it’s because the average age of our team was 26, but we all have become close friends who’ve been able to support each other and just have fun with all bullshit aside. We have another week together and we plan to make it memorable. I never imagined that we’d all bond so well, but I think we all like each other and are acutely aware of everyone else’s flaws. It doesn’t take long when you spend every hour with someone, to learn who they are.
Thanks for reading.
This is just the beginning.