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'I don't know how he pulled that off': Maccabi icon's resurrection seals epic gold

Posted: 09-Jul-2019 by PanAm Games 2019

Sam Parasol has been to 14 Maccabi Games. He’s never faced anything like this.

The table tennis veteran inspirationally battled through a health issue to claim gold in the teams event with partner Raymond Rozen via an epic three-hour marathon.

It was epic.

The Aussies looked to be cruising to victory after knocking off the two top teams in the competition, but a scary episode changed everything and created the circumstances for a remarkable victory.

Parasol led his opponent two sets to love and 5-0 in the third before he swiftly crashed to a loss – it was clear something wasn’t right. Having been forced to play back-to-back matches by officials, the table tennis star began to feel dizzy and was seen to by doctors.

“First of all I was petrified because Sam is a very healthy man and he never complains, when he played the first game against this team, but unfortunately he had to play it after playing the top team,” Sam’s wife Ruth said.

Raymond Rozen and Sam Parasol claim gold!

“They just got off the court and they forced him to play the next one. And he lost it. I thought ‘that’s not my husband, he never plays like that’ and he said I’m dizzy. That was it, I was petrified.”

Twice he was assessed by Hatzalah, the Canadian team doctor attempted to cool him down with water, while phone calls to Team Aus doctor Billie Glass also sought to resurrect the veteran. For a period, it appeared he wouldn’t be fit to compete.

Partner Rozen looked on with angst, surrounded by a very understanding Mexican opposition.

The referee threatened that if Parasol didn’t return to the court within ten minutes, he would forfeit the match. His wife Ruth pleaded with officials to switch the order of the matches but they refused suggesting it was ‘against the rules.’ But eventually sanity prevailed and Rozen was allowed to play his singles tie first, giving his partner time to feel better. He won, leaving the pair just a single victory from gold.

After a while, Parasol emerged. He strode to the court and took his place in the doubles. Incredibly, the Aussies shook off the drama to demolish their opponents – that included the Chief Rabbi of one of Mexico City’s largest communities – and claim gold.

It was an epic way to claim the prize they came all the way to Mexico to snare. For Rozen, it ends a 10-year wait for redemption. Having thrown away two huge medal chances at Maccabiah in 2009, he now finally has his medal.

“Honestly [Sam is] very inspirational,” one US spectator said.

“Sam is an ironman and a champion, I don’t know how he pulled that off. When I saw him leave with the paramedics I was actually frightened, and he came back and just won a double it was honestly remarkable. Truly a champion, truly.”

According to the man himself, quitting was never an option.

“I never thought I wouldn’t get back on the court, I was never going to let Raymond down,” Parasol said.

“We’re a team and you’ve got to fight for your team and your country. I would have got back out there and if I had to play in the singles after this I would have done that as well.”

The Aussies will cherish this gold medal and return in the coming days in the hopes of adding to their tally. This was one amazing performance, let’s hope there’s more to come.