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Durban runner scores silver at SA Championships

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Sport

Adam Lipschitz, 27, is soaring high after scoring a silver and fourth place for his races at the South African Championships at Tuks Athletics Stadium last week.

“I’m happy with the positions, but want to improve on times,” the ambitious and driven athlete says, reflecting on his performance at the Athletics South Africa senior track and field national event.

In the 10 000m race, Lipschitz came second with a time of 29:30:40, and in the 5 000m, fourth, with a time of 14:01.

When he is successful in a race, Lipschitz appreciates the long road of consistent effort it has taken to achieve the result.

“Running is an individual sport so what you put in is what you get out. With running, there is no time to rest, you have to give it your all from the get-go. If you aren’t in shape, it will show in your race from your position. When you are fit and winning, you are grateful for the training that you have put in.”

Although no one enjoys losing, Lipschitz says he takes the opportunity when he doesn’t achieve his goals to think about the adjustments he can make. “You reflect, then you act on it in training.”

The born-and-bred Durbanite, who runs his own property investment and management business, says that while COVID-19 has curtailed participation in many international events, his sights are on the horizon – possibly even the Olympics in the years ahead. His dream is to train for the marathon race in this event.

In the interim, he’s looking forward, hopefully, to participation in the upcoming World Athletics Championships in America, then Commonwealth Games, as well as next year’s Maccabi Games – an arena in which he has already had astonishing success.

Lipschitz has been running since primary school, representing South Africa in his high-school years, and continuing at university level.

He trains every morning as part of a disciplined schedule. He doesn’t work with a coach, instead choosing to “use a lot of different programmes that I’ve taken over the years that work for me”.

Running remains a form of meditation for him. “You have time to yourself. I run alone in the morning. It’s when I’m without my phone, no music, just running round the athletics track. It’s time to think about life and any problems, time to evaluate. I enjoy it.”

Ultimately, the sport has taught him powerful life lessons. “It has taught me self-control, self-discipline, and to stay motivated.”

Lipschitz says his family and running club are very supportive, and he is particularly appreciative of his parents’ support over the years.

He comes from a traditionally Jewish family. “I practice the faith, and it’s very much a part of my identity,” and enjoys giving back to the community via the Community Security Organisation and through involvement in Maccabi in KwaZulu-Natal. His other big passion is the administrative side of sport, and he is hoping to be part of making changes provincially in this arena.

Besides having the opportunity to travel internationally, Lipschitz says it has also been amazing to travel to all nine provinces of South Africa through running. “It’s a beautiful country,” he says. The Transkei is his favourite destination so far.

Lipschitz’s message to other budding Maccabean athletes is to “understand yourself and your body first. No one knows your body how you know it yourself. Feel confident and comfortable before you get a coach to tell you what to do or go onto someone else’s plan.”

Lipschitz’s accolades have been celebrated by Maccabi SA, with whom he has a long association. In the 2019 European Maccabi Games in Budapest, Hungary, Lipschitz won the half marathon – “beating the athlete who came second by thirteen minutes!” says Maccabi SA spokesperson Ros Goldin.

At the 2017 Maccabi Games in Israel, Lipschitz won gold medals for both the 10 000m road race and the 5 000m track race.

“To add to that, the 10km was actually the 10km Jerusalem night race, which was open to the public, with the Maccabi race included as a race-within-a-race. He won the whole event, so both the public and Maccabi races.

“He won against very strong competition. In the 5 000m, he came from third to win it. He was brllliant,” says Goldin.

“He’s a great role model for all sports because he’s very dedicated, he trains hard, and plans well. His races are strategic, and he gives it a lot of thought. He sets an outstanding example for our juniors,” Goldin says.

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Sport

Leilah hip-hopping to stardom

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Hip hop national champion Leilah Jankelowitz puts her success down to hard work.

The Grade 10 student at Roedean School in Johannesburg won the 15 to 16 age group in the South African National Hip Hop Championship at the South African State Theatre in Tshwane from 2-3 October 2021.

“It felt unbelievable, as if my hard work had paid off,” says Jankelowitz.

She was invited to the national tournament, organised by the South African Body of Dance, courtesy of achieving a certain percentage in four online and in-person competitions over the past year.

“If you qualified by placing in the top three for all of these competitions, you were given your provincial colours since you were seen as being the best of the best,” the dancer says.

Originally inspired by African dance movements, hip hop dance took off during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It flourished as a new style of street dance, incorporating aspects of modern dance, tap, and swing, integrating music and complex movements to form artistry.

For Jankelowitz, hip hop dance is both a sport and an art because it demands the creativity of art and the discipline and athleticism of sport.

“I’ve always loved dancing,” says Jankelowitz. “I began working with small and basic dance studios until they said that they felt I should move to something more professional as well as more challenging. That’s exactly what happened.”

She practices with other dancers in Pretoria about two or three times a week for about three hours. On her own, she practices twice a week for about an hour.

“When competitions are coming up, we train heavily, and I usually spend seven hours or more in Pretoria on a Saturday. That’s in addition to the training sessions during the week.”

Jankelowitz hoped to compete in the World Hip Hop Championships in Slovenia in November. “I qualified by getting a certain percentage or higher and placing first in the top three at nationals,” she says. Unfortunately, the rise in COVID-19 cases in the Central European country has resulted in the tournament being cancelled.

Jankelowitz could arm herself with Michelle Leigh Openshaw’s four principles for women looking to make a career in hip hop. The first female judge from Africa to sit on the world hip hop international panel, Openshaw’s advice is to fully discover your strengths and weaknesses, believe in yourself, be an apprentice or find a mentor, and remove fear of failure.

Hip hop isn’t the only sport that Jankelowitz excels in. She’s excited to be in South Africa’s netball squad for next year’s Maccabi Games in Israel. “Netball is another one of my passions. I went to multiple trials until I made it to the final round where out of the huge group, they chose nine to 12 girls from Johannesburg and Cape Town and I was among them.”

The Maccabi Games runs in the Jankelowitz family. Both her parents were Maccabeans, with her mom participating in netball and her dad in soccer.

In addition to netball and dancing, she also plays soccer, tennis, and does athletics. “I love going on runs or going to the gym. I really love spending time with my mates and going out with them,” says Jankelowitz.

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Lifestyle

Hatzolah’s invasion tour brings freedom back

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I’ve never thought of us as the invading type, we’re more “people of the book”, but for five amazing days, even if in our own minds, we invaded the roads of the Overberg region on the 2021 Hatzolah Cape Invasion Tour.

As a first-time invader, and yes, I have to say it, in a COVID-19 year, I wasn’t sure what to expect and how I would feel being in a hotel for five days with a group of guys, many of whom I didn’t know, and riding in a mask-less peloton. This was in addition to the real fear of whether my “pins” (legs) would hold up for the 500km of riding and more than 5 000m of climbing that was necessary to claim a full invasion.

What I hadn’t taken into account was the “Hatzolah factor”. Here is an organisation whose mission it is to care, keep our community safe, save our lives when called upon to do so, and in doing so, to help create “a future that looks brighter together”.

In some respects, the riding was secondary. The operation to keep the invaders safe in all aspects was the real show, and the stakes were high for Hatzolah, which has been our knight in shining PPE (protective) suits throughout the pandemic. And what a show it put on! Led by rosh riding, Mark Kruger; rosh logistics and anything else you could think of, Sharon Newfield; and rosh medical, Yudi Singer, the Hatzolah team of Bernard Segal, Justin Gillman, Albert Ndlovu, and Sisqo Buthelezi were simply exceptional. I can tell you from personal experience that to have Segal following you in a red ambulance and then pull up next to you and offer you a “red ambulance” (an ice-cold Coke) when you’ve been dropped by the group is really quite remarkable.

As were the unbelievable marshals who worked the traffic and kept us moving safely in every direction, and our bike mechanic, Sylvester, who kept our Dogmas, Canyons, and Treks rolling smoothly on the open road. An essential function for a group full of Jewish bike mechanics.

The riding was exceptional. From the spectacular descent into Gordon’s Bay to the golden fields of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, from Pringle Bay to Villiersdorp and Hermanus, we were treated to the best of our beautiful country.

One of the biggest challenges for the invaders, on top of riding and climbing, was to return from the invasion weighing less and not more than when we started. Avron of Avron’s in Cape Town made sure that was almost impossible. The food was top class. How do I know? No one complained.

Not everything was smooth sailing. On day three, one of the more accomplished riders in the group, who was beginning to glow like a lava lamp, discovered that he had been shmeering himself with sanitiser and not sun block, but even that was quickly fixed.

And just when it couldn’t get any better, it did. Each evening, we were treated to a virtuoso performance of Pavarotti, Bocelli, and beautiful chazonis from one of – actually probably the only – multitalented rider on the tour, Ezra Sher.

I almost forgot. How do you know you’ve got Chabadniks on the ride? You have a shul set up complete with a Torah and guys lining up to put tefillin on in the morning. Love it!

From the COVID-19 tests that were required from all riders prior to arriving at Arabella, to the dedicated dining area, to the support teams and riders who made up the invading party of 2021 in a COVID-19 year, it almost felt normal. Like we were back.

This year’s tour was as much about the riding as it was about re-claiming just a little bit of our freedom that has been taken away from all of us over the past 18 or so months. It was about being careful, which allowed us to be carefree. It was about being part of a remarkable community of riders supporting the remarkable organisation that Hatzolah is. There aren’t many quotable quotes when one thinks of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but when it comes to the Hatzolah Cape Invasion for 2022, one springs to mind. “I’ll be back!” May the wind be at our backs.

  • Herschel Jawitz is on the board of the SA Jewish Report.

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“The Cheetah” sets the pace in ju-jitsu and judo

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Mila Ben David, known as “The Cheetah”, became the youngest ever person to be crowned Woman Achiever of the Year at the Johannesburg Women in Sports Awards held on 8 October.

A Grade 4 student at King David Linksfield, the feisty 10-year-old martial artist won the accolade based on her achievements in ju-jitsu and judo.

“Thank you so much for inviting me and for this beautiful award,” Ben David told all the attendees, including Banyana Banyana forward Rhoda Mulaudzi. “I’m so glad to be recognised for my hard work and dedication.”

Ben David went on to thank her family, coaches, and Moonira Ramathula, who founded the Awards in 2018.

Ben David’s Israeli-born father, Amir, told the SA Jewish Report, “The nominees were all women, adults, and then a young girl actually wins. Normally these awards go to sports like rugby and the more popular sports. So, this is a big thing for ju-jitsu and judo. But the unique thing about Mila is that, in South Africa, she’s always fighting in the boy’s division and keeps winning.”

She has 24 gold medals for ju-jitsu and four gold medals for judo. She won the 2018 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Los Angeles, the African Continental Jiu-Jitsu Championship (boy’s division) three times in a row, and the Israeli Championship. In addition, she came second in the European Championship.

In South Africa, she has been dominating competitions against boys for the past three years.

In a recent interview screened on Disney Junior (DStv channel 309), Ben David explained why she no longer competes against girls. “After my first fight, the first competition, the girls decided that they didn’t want to fight with me,” she said. “So, I moved to the boy’s division, and my coaches said that it was a good challenge.”

Born in Madrid, Spain, Ben David emigrated with her family to South Africa when she was five.

“She speaks Spanish, her first language, and Hebrew,” says her father. “When we came to South Africa, she couldn’t speak a word of English. Now she speaks a very good English.”

Ben David was motivated to get involved in judo when she watched the sport during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “My dad asked me if I wanted to try that kind of sport,” she recalled. “The next day, we went to the gym and I met my coaches. Since then, I haven’t missed one training.”

Her dad encouraged her to take up martial arts that have a grappling instead of striking style. “I think it’s a better style for a girl. She does box and does kickboxing, but she’s not competing in that.”

Judo and ju-jitsu are grappling arts that trace their roots back to feudal Japan. Whereas judo focuses on standing and throwing techniques, ju-jitsu concentrates its efforts on controlling and submitting opponents on the ground. In short, judo is 90% standing and 10% on the ground; ju-jitsu is the opposite.

Ben David practices judo and ju-jitsu every day of the week, and trains at Gracie Barra, a martial arts school in Illovo, Johannesburg. In addition to the “The Cheetah”, they also call her “Mila the Killa”.

Storm Conrad, Ben David’s coach since she started martial arts, said, “She’s not the type of student that comes every day. She wants to fight the bigger, stronger kids. She’s always up for a challenge. She’s the most diligent, hardworking individual I’ve ever come across.”

Said her father, “She’s extremely dedicated. In King David, she brought the medal from the awards to the school and her interview on DStv was played in assembly on Friday. In a recent competition, once again, she was the only girl in the boy’s division and won all the fights by submission, not even by points. It’s quite extraordinary when a girl does that.”

Said a male opponent, “Mila is one of the hardest opponents for me to face – I think I can speak for a lot of the children at [Gracie Barra]. Mila is very focused when she starts ju-jitsu and I don’t think anything can get her unfocused.”

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Ben David took part in Zoom martial arts classes. “But it wasn’t like the real combat sport. I was happy to move back to gym,” she said.

Ben David also trains in rock-climbing and Muay Thai, a combat sport characterised by its use of stand-up, kicking strike actions. Although she enjoys dancing and cooking, she wants to succeed in martial arts.

“My dream is to be a world champion and a black belt,” she said. “I was also thinking of being an astronaut because I love space, or a palaeontologist because I like dinosaurs, so I’m not really sure about it yet.”

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