As the world gears up for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Forward has taken note of a handful of remarkable Jewish men and women who will compete in Beijing. Our roundup reflects the diversity of Jews from around the world participating in the games from August 8 through August 24.
The Chabad House here sits at the end of a quiet street in an upscale gated community just inside this city’s Fourth Ring road and down the block from the Israeli Embassy. A caged duck and a stroller guard the entrance, as does a small army of young Chinese men who patrol the neighborhood of gaudy McMansions.
Ever hear of a Jewish motocross racer? Neither have I, and I’ve been around sports for almost 50 years and written about Olympics from the Alps to Barcelona.
Swimmer Sarah Poewe doesn’t have dual loyalties — if only life were that simple. Instead, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist boasts connections numerous and varied, with passports from Germany and South Africa, and All-American academic and athletic honors from her time at the University of Georgia, where she swam for the 2005 championship team of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Born in Capetown, the 25-year-old Poewe competed for South Africa at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, but claimed her bronze medal four years later as part of a German 4 x 100 meter relay team that broke national and European records on its way to the podium.
For sprint kayaker Rami Zur, the three-month lead-up to the Beijing Olympics has itself been an international affair, divided among three countries and shared with fellow athletes from around the world. By the time the 31-year-old finally puts his boat in the water in China, he will have spent the bulk of the period in Hungary. From there he will fly to California for a short stretch before wrapping up his preparations at a final-training camp in Japan.