Maccabiah Games 2022: Athletes compete for the title of world’s strongest Jew

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At the Second Zionist Congress in 1898, the first Zionist leader, Max Nordau, declared: “We must again aspire to create a muscular Judaism. »

So the ghost of Nordau must have smiled at the Jerusalem YMCA when Jewish men and women from around the world came together to demonstrate this ‘muscular Judaism’ at the Maccabiah weightlifting competitions that ended last week.

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For the first time in 33 years, weightlifting has been reintroduced to Maccabiah events by popular demand.

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Over two days, 17 women and 21 men lifted increasingly heavy barbells over their heads in two types of tightly choreographed lifts: the snatch and the jerk.

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In the first case, the lifters hold the dumbbell in a squatting position, then throw it into the air, locking the arms while the dumbbell is in the air before rising to a standing position.

Clean and jerk is the more complex of the two exercises. Weightlifter crouches and holds the bar. He then rotates his wrists, places the bar above his chest, and stands up. In one synchronized movement – shake – They throw the stick over their heads and leap into the air, landing one foot slightly forward and one leg back. Holding the bar above their heads, they place their feet parallel to each other.

For the inexperienced, watching weightlifting is more like exercising. solo more than a competition, especially during the Maccabiah Games, where athletes perform their lifts on a theater stage. To commemorate the three weightlifters and weightlifting trainers who were among the 11 Israeli athletes killed by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics, organizers hung a poster with photos of the four men to the right of the stage.

If the effort is surprising, the facial expressions are sad.

Competitors arrive dressed in skin-tight suits, sometimes fitted with heavy leather belts or knee pads. After performing a short warm-up ritual – usually by pressing their feet for better traction or grasping the bar carefully – they take a deep breath and quickly perform the first move of the push-up: they raise the bar above their heads in a crouching position. Lay it on your chest for grabs or clean and jerk.

Then they usually catch their breath and mentally prepare themselves for the next step, with the cheers of the crowd – whatever the athlete’s nationality – “you got it”, usually in English – encouraging them to breathe “where they can breathe.”

While the effort spent at this point is jarring, the facial expressions are unfortunate. As men and women struggle against a truly enormous load, sometimes enough to bend the bar, their faces show every ounce and their need for oxygen for the next part of the event is so great it seems as if they’re there. to enlarge the gills.

During the snatch, lifters slowly stand up, with or without lifting the bar, if they have lifted more than they can handle or if they are not strong enough.

For the clean and dirty, the first comeback is just the beginning of the main event; After holding their breath, lifters perform a frenzied full-body movement, pushing the bar into the air and throwing their legs in a kind of jolt, often accompanied by a strong growl.

Competitors ranged from amateurs to international Olympic athletes from all over the world and ages 17 to 49.

Whether the athlete normally performs a “clean lift” during this momentary movement or if their position is unbalanced and unable to do so, this awareness often hits them quickly and very clearly encourages him to let go right away. But when they’re successful, they usually smile, finish the move, and slowly move their feet so they’re parallel again before dropping the barbell to the ground for a quake-proof jump.

Competitors ranged from amateurs to international Olympic athletes from all over the world and ages 17 to 49. Some were lean, their ability to lift very heavy bars was mainly due to excellent physical condition and extremely thorough training, while others were larger and seemed to rely more on their natural muscles to lift weights.

Although the lifters pushed their limits, the competition was absolutely amicable and the audience cheered for all the athletes, regardless of nationality. Contestants chatted at the end of their respective events and stayed around to encourage each other.

After two days of competition, the high priestess and high priest of Nordau’s “muscular Judaism” – unofficially, certainly the most powerful Jew and Jew in the world – were announced: American Celia Gold and Israeli David Litvinov, who won the women’s gold, respectively. and male categories.

Celia Gold, who was 70 kilos in the snatch, lifted 96 kilos after three tries and 124 kilos in the clean and jerk, for a total of 220 kilos. In the snatch, Gold actually finished second behind Israeli Nicole Rubanovich, who lifted 98kg, but heavier lifting in the clean and jerk gave her the gold medal.

Rubanovich won silver for her efforts and Atalya Nakar of Peru won bronze.

At over 130 kilograms, about 20 kilograms heavier than the next heaviest competitor, Litvinov scored 180 kilograms in the snatch and 210 kilograms in the clean and jerk, 390 kilograms overall, or 40 kilograms heavier than the next. contestant.

In both lifts, Litvinov outperformed the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where he competed as part of the Israeli team, but came close to his personal best at the 2019 World Championships in Thailand.

Artur Mugurduov and Igor Olshanetski, who finished second and third respectively in the men’s men, were also Israeli citizens, but were part of the “Olim” team, a group of new immigrants to Israel who competed under the Maccabiah flag rather than the flag of a particular country. In part, it was a way to allow dual Israeli-Russian nationals to compete as the Russian delegation withdrew from the competition this year, but it also allowed more Israelis to participate. Both Mugurduov and Olshanetski have represented Israel in international weightlifting competitions for years.

Source From: Google News

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