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Touching moment that summed up Maccabi icon

Posted: 05-Jul-2019 by PanAm Games 2019

It was a Maccabi hug 30 years in the making.

Australian tennis phenom Bert Rosenberg and American rival Lazar Lowinger embraced in a crowded walkway in Mexico’s stunning Jewish community centre –a truly magical moment.

The pair first faced off on the court way back at the 1989 Maccabiah Games, and have played each other a number of times throughout a remarkably lengthy history competing internationally for their countries.

Rosenberg describes it as a rivalry, noting he won the previous meeting between the pair. But it’s so much more than that.

Lazar Lowinger and Bert Rosenberg

“He’s a very dear friend and a very nice representative of Australia,” Lowinger said of his Aussie opposition.

“He honours Australia.”

They’re short and sharp words, but ones that echo the broader thoughts of the Maccabi community. At an amazing 87 years of age, Bert is back for his eighth stint in the green and gold. The only Games he’s missed since his debut in 1983, remains the 1997 edition in Israel.

He’s still bouncing around the court with unmatched energy and now enters this tournament with the number one seeding attached to his already legendary name. Months before setting foot on Mexican soil, his fellow competitors for around the world were in touch with management – to find out if they’ll get a chance to see him once again.

Still fighting fit at 87. You might be wondering what his secret is.

“Just stay alive,” he said with ice-cool wit.

“Just check the newspaper to make sure you’re not in the obituary section and you can get up and play tennis.”

Pretty much sums it up!

Lowinger, Rosenberg and Aussie tennis player Lewis Levi

Bert is excited about his first time in Mexico, and even after 36 years wearing the green and gold, he still considers each and every day at an international Maccabi games as a privilege. Something not to be taken for granted but rather cherished.

“I think it’s a privilege,” he said.

“I think it’s a privilege for an average sort of sportsman to get treated like an elite athlete. I think it’s very special. What we had today, a lunch with the ambassador, these are privileges not to be taken lightly and I much appreciate them.”

“I’ve never been to Mexico, and I would have been concerned travelling on my own, to come as part of a group it’s a double bonus. I enjoy the sport, enjoy the friendship.”

Look out for the elder statesmen of the Aussie team as he seeks to add to an already bloated medal tally from across the decades.

What an inspiration he continues to be.

A true Maccabi icon.