High-achieving athletes celebrated at awards

“The pivotal role that Maccabi has played in my development as an athlete is so special,” says Jemima Montag

Jemima Montag. Photo: Athletics Australia
Jemima Montag. Photo: Athletics Australia

When hosting the Maccabi Australia Sport Awards on Zoom on April 14, ABC sport reporter Daniel Garb said of the Jewish community, “I don’t know if we’ve had a better era of elite sportspeople in Australia than we do now.”

The President’s Award was jointly won by 2023 AFL Rising Star recipient and North Melbourne Kangaroo Harry Sheezel, and dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist race walker Jemima Montag, who is preparing for her second Olympics and founded the ‘Girls Play On’ education project.

Montag said, “The pivotal role that Maccabi has played in my development as an athlete is so special.”

She added, she’s “tracking well for Paris 2024”, adopting a “healthy balance” between wanting and working towards winning gold, while “not attaching all of my happiness and wellbeing to that outcome”.

In a video message, Sheezel shared memories of playing for AJAX, adding, Maccabi “has been so supportive of my journey to the AFL and I couldn’t thank everyone in the community enough”.

Montag and Sheezel were also the Victorian winners for outstanding sportswoman and sportsman.

The NSW and national winner for outstanding sportsman was Australian Futsalroos player Ethan De Melo, and trampoline athlete Avi Margolis was the Western Australian winner.

Harry Sheezel. Photo: AFL Photos

In a video message from the Futsal Asian Cup in Thailand, De Melo said, “It was a surprise to find out that I’d been nominated and an amazing honour to win – thanks everyone.”

The NSW and national winner for outstanding sportswoman was Olympic gold medallist canoe slalom athlete Jessica Fox and the Western Australian winner was Fremantle City footballer Laura Waldman.

In a video message, Fox thanked Maccabi and “the whole community for the support” and congratulated all category nominees and winners, adding, “It’s wonderful to see us [Jewish athletes] representing [at the highest level].”

In the junior sportsman category, Wanderers Academy player and 2023 Australian Joey Aden Green was the NSW winner, and the Victorian winner and the national all-abilities winner was 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games athletics silver medallist Ori Drabkin.

ITF junior tennis tour player Jake Dembo was the Western Australian and national junior sportsman winner.

Erin Gordon, captain of the winning Dallas Cup U19 Australian Schoolgirls football team, was NSW junior sportswoman of the year, while the Victorian and national winner was weightlifter Layla Bloom, who has represented Australia at two junior worlds.

Masters sportsman of the year for Victoria was triathlete Neil Slonim, and the NSW and national winner was swimmer Jorian Catzel, who won two bronzes at last year’s worlds.

Pickleball player Carol Street won the NSW masters sportswoman category, while the Victorian and national winner was weightlifter Leora Yates – a 2023 world cup and Oceania champion.

Maccabi Australia president Rod Rosmarin thanked special guest Nova Peris and said, “The calibre of Jewish athletes blows me away.”

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