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Q&A with Tom York OAM

Posted: 30-Jun-2017 by Maccabi NSW

On the eve of the 20th Maccabiah games in Israel, we sat down with Tom York OAM, Head of Delegation for the Australian team, to ask him a few questions…

How do you feel at this point, with the team arriving in Israel and just a few days out from the opening ceremony?

Here I am in Kfar Ha’Maccabiah as part of the advanced party and I feel excited to lead the largest ever Australian delegation. 

I feel satisfied that our planning, training, and organisation will give our athletes the best possible preparation and a great sporting experience.

I feel relieved that the thousands of hours put in by so many volunteers will come to fruition when we ALL march as ONE into the Teddy stadium in Jerusalem on July 6.

What have been some of the highlights for you looking back at the last year of preparation?

There are so many wonderful highlights in the past 12 months.

The obvious one to me is the way we all have worked as one big team to ensure that our athletes have a great Maccabiah experience.

I have a saying that “together everything is possible” and this is the case with the dedicated Officials including our Team Managers, Coaches, Medical, Media, Staff, Finance, Security and the office. 

In the past 12 months all the teams have been selected and ratified. All in all there are 465 athletes and 101 Officials in the delegation.

I am pleased to say that due to the combined fundraising efforts by team managers and a few individual supporters no one has been left behind for financial reasons.
All teams have been training very hard including participating in several camps to be in peak condition for the Games.

There are a couple of new things we introduced. For the first time, the Maccabiah torch left Israel and Australia was one of few countries selected for a world wide torch relay.

The beautifully designed and built 2017 Maccabiah torch made its debut at the NSW Maccabi awards night and has since visited all Jewish day schools in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as important landmarks, including making its way to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Many teams used the torch for promotional activities.

Also for the first time we organised communal team farewells in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. The farewells included a special service to mark the 20th anniversary of the bridge disaster that happened at the opening ceremony in 1997.

The functions were very well attended across all three cities. We had outstanding motivational speakers, we introduced our flag bearers and Maccabiah uniforms, showed captivating video clips both from Israel and produced by our own media team.
The farewells engaged the community and gave the athletes a fitting farewell and served to remind them what a huge achievement and honour it is to represent Australia at an International level. 

What are you most looking forward to during the Games?

I am looking forward to seeing as many events as possible. I want to see our athletes, excel, giving their best and enjoying the experience of competing at the highest level of Jewish sport.

I want to see their smiling faces as we enter the Teddy stadium in the beautiful city of Jerusalem at the Opening Ceremony where they will be joined by 9500 athletes and officials from over 80 countries. It will be a magical night and very special moment in their sporting lives.

I am also looking forward to our pre-camp in Haifa where the focus will be on our athlete’s acclimatisation and final preparation for the competition. 

You attended your first Maccabiah nearly 50 years ago, how has it changed over the years?

The core of the Maccabiah Games experience has not changed; however having been involved in 6 Maccabiah Games, each time the preparation and the experience improves due to the support the Maccabiah organising committee receives from the Israeli Government and the public.  

I, and many of my senior leadership colleagues are of the same opinion that this years Games will be the best yet. I say this because the organising committee led by Amir Peled has attracted very experienced administrators, secured much better venues and hotels.

From Maccabi Australia’s point of view, the biggest changes are that the administration is becoming more professional with the end result that our teams are better prepared.

Which sport would you personally be most interested to watch?

It is my intention to watch all the athletes in action. We are competing in 23 sports and have 47 teams spread all over Israel. But in spite of that I will see them all.

We have a few teams in major sports such as Football, Basketball, Rugby, Netball to name a few and one or two representatives in sports such as Archery, Equestrian, Rowing, Beach Volleyball, Squash and Gymnastics.

As you know, I have a soft spot for basketball, so I look forward to watching all six teams in medal games.

Do you have a message for the members of the Team?

Yes I have an important message for the team. You have an opportunity to do something that not many members of our community can do. You get to wear the green and gold as you compete against athletes from all parts of the globe. 

Perform to your best ability, challenge yourself to do great things and strive for personal best. Enjoy the Games, meet new people and make new friends. Experience this amazing country and come back with life long memories of participation of the 20th Maccabiah Games.

Pictured above: Tom York OAM & Barry Smorgon OAM hold the Maccabiah Torch atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Pictured below: Some photos of Tom from the 1969 Maccabiah Games



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