Ponte Vedra's Hannah Berman recently won a gold medal as part of the United States women’s golf team at the 20th World Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, Israel.
The U.S. team defeated the Israeli squad on its home course, the Pete Dye-designed Caesarea Golf Club. While the games ran July 5-17, the golf championship was held July 11-13 on the 6,100-yard course, about 45 minutes north of Tel Aviv. Shooting a U.S. team-low over 54 holes (79-73-76/228), Berman took the silver individual medal.
"My only dream going into these games was to win a team gold medal," said Berman, who is a 2016 graduate of Ponte Vedra High School. “To come home as the low American and with a silver medal is beyond my imagination. I am humbled and honored to be part of the history of the Maccabiah. The entire experience changed my life in so many ways.”
Berman’s U.S. teammate Marni Murez of UC Santa Clara took Bronze (231). Her other U.S. teammates were Boca Raton native Alexa Popowitz (Georgetown), who finished fourth; Julie Steinbauer of Palm Beach (Rollins College); and Julia Hyman (Georgetown) of Allegheny, Pennsylvania.
“We had a strong team, as did the Israelis,” said Berman, who is transferring from University of West Florida to Jacksonville University in the fall, “and it was a test for us on their home course. I think they knew every blade of grass. So, it was a big win for us.”
Often called the Jewish Olympics, the Maccabiah Games rank as the world's third largest participatory sports event behind the summer and winter Olympics. More than 12,000 athletes from 80 countries compete in 43 sports. With a dual mission of bringing people to Israel to celebrate their faith and connecting them through sports, the U.S. delegation brought 1,150 athletes to the games, the largest delegation it's ever brought and second only to host-nation Israel with a delegation of 2,200 athletes. The U.S. delegation finished second in overall medals with 90 to Israel's 281. The U.S. team has been training in Jerusalem, Netanya, Haifa and Tel Aviv since the end of June, mixing in practice with seeing the touchstone sites of Israel and conducting mission work.
In an Instagram post just before the opening ceremonies, Berman called the opportunity an experience of a lifetime.
“I am so grateful to be in this beautiful country with nations around the world, all celebrating one thing,” she wrote.