Geoffrey Rothschild was a standout for Australia at the Pan American Maccabi Games, claiming an incredible nine gold medals from all nine swimming events he entered.
Rothschild won the masters freestyle 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m races, as well as the breaststroke 50m, 100m and 200m. The veteran swimmer has been a prolific medal winner for Australia at Maccabi events for a decade now, amassing 18 medals from the previous three Maccabiah Games in Israel.
“It’s been really enjoyable having the opportunity to meet and compete with Jewish people from around the world,” Rothschild told The AJN. “Maccabi is very good for Jewish unity.”
Also in the pool in Buenos Aires, Susan Herzberg won bronze and silver medals, Nina Blair took home a bronze, while in basketball both the under-16 and under-18 boys claimed bronze.
Australia also won several gold and silver medals in triathlon (MacMan), with Neil Slonim, Barry Lip and Alan Kaplan all excelling.
The two-hour opening ceremony was held at Movistar Arena, located in the city’s Villa Crespo neighbourhood, which is traditionally associated with the local Jewish community.
Australia’s delegation – the largest ever sent to the Pan Am Games – marched into the arena first, led by flagbearers Slonim, Lipp and Sam Gamsu.
Newly-elected Argentine President Javier Milei officially opened the Games, with his comments drawing multiple standing ovations from the 10,000 strong crowd.
“I want to extend a warm greeting to all the Jewish people and in particular to those who have family or loved ones near the front lines,” said Milei, referencing the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.
“I accompany you in this difficult moment and I want to ratify at this moment my unalterable commitment to the State of Israel and to the Jewish people in their fight against Islamic terrorism, for peace and freedom.”
The opening ceremony included a sombre prayer in memory of those killed on October 7, led by Romina Schvalb from Kibbutz Nir Oz. Her brother-in-law, Ruben Engel, was killed in the Hamas attacks.
Australia’s head of delegation Jeff Sher thanked Argentina for hosting the Games and said it was a “special occasion from so many perspectives”.
“The coming together of Jews from across the world, standing united in the face of the heightened growth in antisemitism, was an inspirational and memorable moment,” Sher said.
“Walking into the opening ceremony was hair-raising and a moment that will never be forgotten. Listening to the stories from the two survivors from Kibbutz Be’eri solidified why we need to stand together. These Games exemplified this spirit. The joy of seeing medals won, friendships made and healthy competition was inspiring.
“Thank you to the athletes for carrying the Maccabi brand proudly and exhibiting our values to the Maccabi world.”
The Pan American games started in 1950 and occur every four years. Argentina was also host in 1995 and 2007.