By BERNIE BELLAN Every once in a while we revisit stories that we had published in previous years – especially when it comes to tracking the careers of young athletes in our community.
In our last issue we posted an update about figure skater Yohnatan Elizarov and in another recent issue we wrote about the success that Adam Buchwald has been enjoying as a speed skater.
That got us to wondering about two other young men, both of whom we first profiled in this paper several years ago.
We first wrote about hockey player Guy Rozin six years ago – when Guy was 13. His family had just moved here from Israel so that Guy could pursue his dream of playing hockey. At the time we explained that Guy and his family were helped to come here by Monte Silverberg, the grandson of the late Jack Silverberg, and the son of Dr. Donald Silverberg, who had made aliyah many years ago.
Guy had demonstrated exceptional talent playing in-line hockey and he transitioned to ice hockey while in Israel.
As Guy’s father, Roie, told us in 2017, “Two years ago he (Guy) started to play ice hockey in Israel. We have only two rinks in Israel,” Roie noted. “Everybody who saw him said ‘he’s a great player, you must do something’, so we decided to move to Canada – that’s the big reason – to play hockey.”
When the Rozin family moved to Winnipeg Guy began playing Bantam AAA hockey, eventually moving up the ladder – from Minor Bantam, to Bantam, to Midget. He continued to progress, although his relatively short stature kept him from advancing to the degree to which he aspired.
In 2019 he flew to Bulgaria to play for Israel in the IHFU U-18 Division III World Championship, where he helped Israel to finish in second place that year.
In the 2020-21 season Guy played for the Kenora Thistles in the Manitoba AAA U-18 league and last year 2022 Guy traveled to Europe to play for a team in Osby, Sweden.
We recently asked Guy’s mother, Pnina, whether Guy is still playing hockey. She answered that he had been playing in Ontario, but decided to come back to Winnipeg in December and pursue his studies. Still, with his talent we’re sure that any time he wanted to play for Israel in the future, he would be a most welcome addition.
Michael Akbashev is another young athlete who has been making his mark in the world of judo since he was very young.
Now 20, Michael is currently a part of Canada’s national judo team, training in Montreal.
We first featured Michael in this paper in 2017 when he was a 15-year-old youth ambassador at Shalom Square. As we noted in a 2019 story, “In the short time he has lived here Michael has already accumulated a terrific record of success in his age category, as a member of the Manitoba Judo Team: 3rd place in Canada in 2017, 2nd place in the USA in 2017, and Canadian champion in 2018. He was selected by Judo Canada as an Elite Athlete in 2018 and 2019 and by Judo Manitoba as the best youth athlete in 2018.”
In 2019 Michael drew even further attention to his prowess on the mat when he placed first in the “Elite National Eight” judo championships in Montreal. Since then he has been competing in tournaments all across Canada, also having moved up in weight categories – from U66 in 2018 to U100 now. (That’s 34 more kilos of added muscle in five years!)
His first foray on to the international scene occurred last May in Colombia, Italy, where he finished seventh among all competitors in his class.
Since then, he has never failed to finish either first or second in all the tournaments in which he has participated in Canada (seven altogether).
In a recent email received from his father, Baruch, we were told that Michael would be representing Canada at a tournament in Bosnia earlier this month, then at one in Germany the following weekend.
Baruch also wrote that Michael is working in Montreal and has plans to attend Concordia University next year.
Michael has also been nominated for Jewish Athlete of the Year twice – and is a cinch to be nominated again this year.