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Bridge victim’s son gets honorary Maccabiah gold

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SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — The son of one of the four Australian victims of the 1997 Maccabiah bridge disaster was awarded a gold medal.

Josh Small, 19, competed at the 18th Maccabiah last month in ten-pin bowling — the same sport in which his father, Greg, was due to compete at the ill-fated 15th Maccabiah in 1997. Scores of Australians were plunged into the polluted waters of the Yarkon River when a makeshift bridge collapsed just before the opening ceremony.

Josh Small failed to win a medal during the competition but returned to Sydney this week with a gold medal bearing the words “For the courage to accomplish your father’s dream. You deserve the gold.”

While the gold medal, awarded by the head of the Israeli Bowling Federation and the tournament director, is the same as those awarded to champions in each sport, it is not counted in the official medal tally.

“I learned about the medal on the last day of the tournament,” Josh Small said. “It was a complete surprise. It was for completing what my late father had started. It’s amazing.”

He also received the 18th Maccabiah Games ten-pin bowling sportsman award, which is dedicated “in memory of Greg Small” and voted by the male bowlers. The female bowlers voted for American Meryl Romeu in honor of Yetty Bennett, another Aussie ten-pin bowler who perished in the 1997 bridge disaster.

Josh Small delivered an emotional speech at the official memorial to the victims of the bridge disaster and recited Yizkor at the opening ceremony of the Games.

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