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August 10, 2012

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 10, 2012 By Dan Goldberg the 400 meters that had stood AthleticsAustralia."You know I believe he'll make the semi Although the family is not "He's got an amazing op- for 27 years. Last year he won it would help if I was a differ- and then anything's possible." religious, Solomon never eats portunity at Stanford to be SYDNEY (JTA)--Moments the 400 meters at the Austra- ent color." Solomon has a large cheer- chametz, leavened products, runningintheNCAA[National after Steven Solomon walked lian National Championship Solomon has not been ing squad in Australia, led on Passover, but his body re- Collegiate Athletics Associa- into Ramat Gan Stadium for and this year, despite suffering drawn into the scandal, but by Maccabi officials. Michael quires carbohydrates to excel, tion], the best competition in the opening of the 2009 Mac- a hamstring injury, he man- the reams of negative press Vasin, the chief executive So he visited his local rabbi, theworldforpeopleathislevel," cabiah Games in Israel, the agedtodefendhisnationaltitle, aboutSteffenseninadvertently of Maccabi in Sydney, said Levi Wolff, an American-born his father said. Australian teenager sent his Justtwoweeksago, Solomon catapulted the young Aussie Solomon--whowon the Mac- Chabadnikwho runs Sydney's First, however, Australia's parents a photo with a rues- won the bronze medal at the into the headlines. Steffens~en, cabi New South Wales junior largest Orthodox congrega- track sensation will attempt sage describing how amazing World Junior Championships whowas selectedto race onthe Sportsman of the Year in 2009 tion, Central Synagogue. to upstage some of the world's it was to be at his first"Jewish in Barcelona in a personal best 4x400-meter relay team that and the Sportsman of the Year "His coachesthoughthe had best, including the defending Olympics." 45.52seconds.Healsoposteda includes Solomon, has since trophy in 2011--was a"celeb- goneabsolutelycrazy, ashehad Olympic 400-meters cham- LastFridaynight, Solomon, blistering sub-45-second relay backed down on his boycott rity within our midst."been training for this race for pion, America's LaShawn now 19, marched into the iegthatheipedtheAustralians threat. "It'sunbelievable,"Vasinsaid. months," said Wolff, who gave Merritt. Olympic Stadium in London qualify for London. "The biggest pressure that I "He's blown everybody away." himspecialdispensation to eat If he manages that feat, he for the opening of the 2012 HissuccessinSpainprompt- getfromanyoneisthepressure HarryProcel, aMaccabiAus- rice just as Sephardi Jews do will join baseball player Gavin Games. ed Athletics Australia officials that I put on myself," Solomon tralia veteran and head of the during the festival. Fingleson, Australia'ssoleJew- In Tel Aviv, the Sydney- to select him over the veteran saidinanewsconferenceatthe team for the 2013 Maccabiah Another fan, Barry Smor- ishOlympicmedalist, whowon born sportsman captained John Steffensen, an Olympic time. "So any pressure I get Games, hasfollowedSolomon's gon, the chair ofMaccabiAus- a silver in Athens. the junior soccer team; in medalist who had defeated from other athletes is almost meteoric rise and is traveling tralia, said Solomon "has done "I definitely go in there with London,Australia'sonlyJewish Solomon at the Olympic tri- irrelevant." to London this week to watch the community proud andhas a goal to do something special Olympian will compete on the ais earlier this year, although So how did a talented soccer him race. certainlybeenaworthywinner and do something that people track--in the 400-meter race neithermanagedanautomatic playerand keen surfer learnto "He'sawonderfuiAustralian of the Maccabi awards. He is a wouldn't expect me to do," and the 4x400-meter relay, qualifying time. The decision tear up the track? athlete,"saidProcel, asurvivor humbleyoungman. Hopefully Solomon toldthe mediaon the The past 2 1/2 years have sparked a racial conflict in Enter Fira Dvoskina, aoftheill-fatedl997Maccabiah hewillbeinIsraelnextyearfor eve of the Games. been a whirlwind, says his which Solomon was unwit- Ukraine-born coach who has in whichfourAustralians died the Maccabiah as well."Solomon's father, mother father, Michael, aSouthAfrica- tingly in the middle, managedtowipethreeseconds when a bridge collapsed at the Before that, however, Solo- and sister will be in the sta- bornorthopedicsurgeon."The Steffensen, 29, a black man off Solomon's time in the past opening ceremony in Ramat monhasreceivedatrackschol- dium when the starter's gun whole thing has been quite of South African descent, two years. Gan. "The fact he's Jewish arship to Stanford University fires in the 400-meter heats surreal because it's happened threatened to boycott the Although the 77-year-old makes it even more special." in Palo Alto, Calif where he on Saturday. so rapidly," he said this week. Games in disgust, alleging immigrant did not go to Ion- But Solomon's Judaism will study medicine. He said "As aparent, it's agonizing," In2009,theyoungSolomon discrimination by officials, don--herhusbandissick--she prompted a dilemma three he was inspired to follow inhis Michael Solomon said."Every won the under-ITs 400-meter "I've put up with being ra- speaks to Solomon every day. months ago on the eve of father'sfootstepsaftergoingto year there's been a bigger race at the All Schools Cham- ciallyvilifiedbythis federation, "We have to be realistic," Passover because the national Tonga in the South Pacific at and better achievement. You pionship.Thefollowingyear, in being discriminated against Dvoskina said. "First we have championships clashed with age 16 to help his dad with an think, 'When is this all going Tasmania, he broke a record in on many teams," he said of to make it to the semifinal, the festival, aid program, to stop?'" ,as villain" " By Miriam Shaviv LONDON (JTA)--Was the only Israeli on the Interna- tional Olympic Committee instrumental in stopping a tribute to the Munich 11 at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Games? In the past few weeks, a war of words has erupted between the official, Alex Gila@, and the families of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games. They al- lege that his opposition hurt their cause. Gilady actually covered the Munich Games for Israel TV and today is senior vice president of NBC Sports, where he focuses on inter- national business. In 2006 he was inducted into Israel's International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and was given a lifetime achievement award from the Hall. The families failed in their bid for a minute of silence during the London Olympics opening ceremonies to com- memorate the 40th anniver- sary of the terror attack. Their campaign could not persuade the IOC despite garnering more than 111,000 signatures on a petition from more than 105 countries, as well as sup- port from President Obama and numerous other national leaders and legislators around the world. Even after meeting with two of the Munich 11 widows, IOC President Jacques Rogge refused to budge on his opposi- tion to the moment of silence. Some Jewish activists point the finger directly at Gila@ for the outcome. "I believe he was part of the decision" not to go ahead, said Steve Gold, chair of the Munich 11 Minute of Silence Petition and vice president of the JCC Rockland in sub- urban New York. "By having an Israeli who's on the IOC not supporting the minute of UK Embassy in Israel Alex Gilady, second from right, shaking hands with British Ambassador to Israel Mat- thew Gould in Tel Aviv as Zvika Vershaviak and Efraim Zinger of the Olympic Committee of Israel look on, March 14, 2011. silence, it gave the IOC a bit Weinberg, sonofthemurdered article, but Ilana Romano, more credibility." wrestling coach Moshe Wein- widow of murdered weight- For his part Gila@, who berg, published his own ac- lifter Yossef Romano, was at refused to specifically discuss countofameetingwith Gila@ the Atlanta meeting. She told the issue with JTA, told In- in Atlanta in 1996, two years JTA that Weinberg's account in May that after Gila@ was appointed to was accurate, although it was when it came to the moment the IOC and as that city was her and another widow, Ankie of silence, "The unity of the hosting the Olympics. Spitzer, who walked out and Olympicmovementisthemost Weinberg, an actor who is not Gila@. important one" and "There- in the cast of the next install- "We got up and went be- fore, I am not supportingsuch ment of the hit movie series cause he was so insulting and a move." He added that"Such "Twilight," alleged that Gila@ hurtful," she said. an act may harm the unity of toldhimthatanymemorialfor As for Gilady's opposition the Olympics." the Israelis would necessitate to the minute of silence, she Days before the London a similar one for the Palestin- said,"Ithinkit'sterribleidiocy. Olympics opened, Gila@ told ian terrorists who died in the It's a lack of consideration, a the Chicago Tribune that he attack, lack of respect for those who was acting "in [the] best inter- As one of the Munich 11were murdered. It's giving in est of Israeli sport. For me, the widows recalled her husband's to terror." most important thing at the torture and murder, Gila@ If he doesn't believe in the moment is that Israel have listened "stone cold with no minute of silence, she added, (sic) stages to compete on." emotion," then excused him- "Iexpecthimtosay, Tmsorry, He recalled for the Tribune selffromthemeeting"without I can't push it forward,' but how Israel was thrown out of a hint of empathy," Weinberg don't say it's not necessary. theAsianOlympicAssociation wrote. It's necessary." in 1981 and did not regain a Asked about the article in Gila@, born in Tehran in continental sports affiliation a telephone interview with 1942, was a sports journal- until Rogge, among others, JTA, Gila@ angrily quoted ist who covered the Munich helped Israel become a mere- RudyardKipling's 1895 classic Olympics for Israeli television. ber of the European Olympic poem"If." He later became executive Committees in 1994. "If you can bear to hear the producer of Israel TV special There would not be an "ap- truth you've spoken, events, winning the 1977 Is- propriate commemoration in Twistedby knaves to make a rael Broadcasting Association the Olympic stadium," Gila@ trap for fools " he said. AwardforcoverageofEgyptian told the Tribune, until "there IndenyingWeinberg'sstory, President Anwar Sadat's visit is peace." Gila@ said, "The Fox News to Jerusalem. Others, to put it lightly, story was misquoted already Four years later he moved disagree. 16 years ago." to New York City to join NBC In a recent Weinberg did not reply to Sports, where he quickly piece that went viral, Guri an interview request for this rose up the ranks, focusing on building international menttotheIOC, he represents business. Much of his work their interests--I can't argue centered on the Olympics; with that," she told JTA. "But he helpedNBC buy broadcast I can't understand it either, rights to successive Olym- because Alex came back with pic Games, winning four the coffins Could it really be Emmy Awards for Olympic that he has no heart or feel- TV coverage along the way. ing?" she said of Gila@. Along wit being a senior vice In Israel, Romano said, Gi- president of NBC Sports, he la@doesoccasionallycometo remains active in the Israeli the periodic Munich families' media as president of Keshet ceremonies and that he "tries Broadcasting, a Channel 2 to be very nice." franchisee he helped found Still, she is puzzled at his in 1993. failure to "repent" his long- Gila@'s IOC involvement standing objection to the dates back to 1984, when he silence. joined its radio and television One government official commission, which advises familiar with Livni's views on working conditions for said the reasoning is simple: the broadcast media. He was Gila@ genuinely believes that appointed an IOC member a moment of silence would be in 1994 and has been on the a mistake. Coordination for the Games The official noted that Committee for every Olympics Livnat and others acknowledge since 2004. that Gila@ had done much for Much of the Jewish anger Israel and its athletes. In fact, against Gila@ stems from the the week before the Olympics, expectation that as an Israeli Gila@ was said to be among he would have the country's those who pushed the BBC to interests at heart, reverse a decision not to list At a ceremony for Israel's Jerusalem as Israel's capital in Olympics delegation in July, its online guide to the Olym- Sport and Culture Minister pics. Others have credited the Limor Livnat bluntly com- effortstothepushoftheIsraeli plained about him. government and a Facebook "Davka, ouronly Israeli rep- campaign. resentative on the IOC, davka "Limor Livnat turned to he is meant to stand at the Gila@, and he quickly ex- spearheadofthestateofIsrael's pressed willingness to help," battle to commemorate our the official said. "A few hours sportspeople Wewouldhave later, the IOC press officer expected him to have been the wrote a letter of complaint representative of the bereaved to the BBC, asking them to families, the representative of act in accordance with the the entire Israeli society," she definitions of the IOC." said, according to the official TheBBCeventuallychanged text of her speech and using itslistingtoshowJerusalemas the Hebrew word that loosely Israel's "seat of government." means "wouldn't itfigure? When it comes to the Gila@, however, insists that subject of the murder of the his critics have it wrong, athletes, there is a disagree- "I was elected to the IOC on ment," the official continued. a private basis," he told JTA. "I "But even if [Livnat] had the do not represent countries---I power, she would not remove represent specifics the IOC is Gila@ from his IOC position. concerned about. I happen to She very much appreciates be an Israeli." his work, his ability, his effort. Romano only partially ac- It's unprecedented in Israeli cepts the explanation, sports, and you can't take that "I think he has a commit- away from Alex."