Javelin James throwing his way towards ‘Jewish Olympics’
PUBLISHED: 12:41 28 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:41 28 March 2013
South Woodford youngster is looking to compete in one of the biggest sporting and cultural events in the world
Few of us have heard of it, a lot of us don’t qualify to take part in it, but come July, one South Woodford youngster is looking to compete in one of the biggest sporting and cultural events in the entire world.
James Bongart may be only 16, but the young javelin thrower, who attends King Solomon High School in Barkingside, is set to jet to Israel in the summer to take part in the Maccabiah Games – known colloquially as the Jewish Olympics.
“I am really excited about it,” said James. “It is a worldwide event and there are Jewish people coming from everywhere to take part. There are athletes coming from Venezuela – I didn’t even know there were Jews in Venezuela!”
James is currently combining an intensive four-day-a-week training programme with studying for his AS levels at King Solomon.
He is currently the highest-ranked under-17 in the county and the second best in London, but it hasn’t been an easy path for him to reach that level.
“I joined Woodford Green Athletics Club in 2008 when I reached year seven, but as a sprinter for the relay squad. Then one day, one of the coaches suggested I had a go at the javelin and I seemed to pick it up straight away.
“By the end of 2009 I had managed to throw 35.07 metres.”
Things were going well, but then disaster struck for the current Essex Schools and county champion as he broke his elbow.
“I just felt it click during a competition and then the pain came,” said James, whose arm was in a cast for six weeks.
“It took me a long time to get over the injury and I did think about giving the sport up at one stage,” he admitted, but things changed dramatically for the youngster when he met new coach Paul Cheal.
“Paul has been fantastic for me, I owe him absolutely everything,” said the South Woodford boy, who has gone on to win eight out of nine javelin competitions in 2012, thrown a new personal best of 50.97m and also collected the coveted Daniel Sacks Award for outstanding youth athletic achievement last summer.
Now he is preparing for another successful season in the sport.
“I have the Essex Championships, a few opens and then the English Schools in early July before going out to Israel. I have absolutely no idea what sort of standard it will be out there though. I have tried to find out, but have had no luck,” he smiled.
The standard is likely to be good. At the last games in 2009, 51 countries took part in 31 sports and past winners include legendary Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz.
“I am really looking forward to it, but it is an expensive business,” said James. “It is likely to cost around £4,000 for my two and a half week stay, so if there is anyone out there who can help with some of the funding it would be much appreciated.”
Last summer we had the London 2012 Olympics.
In 2013 the biggest sporting competition will be the Maccabiah Games and if all goes well on July 18 at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, James could be lining up for Great Britain at the opening ceremony in front of a crowd of 32,000 including the Israeli President and Prime Minister.
Now that would be something.
■ If you would like to help James get to Israel then you can reach him at his email address on email@example.com
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