Michael Akbashev (in blue)

By BERNIE BELLAN

The Rady JCC has chosen finalists for Jewish Athlete of the Year. The winner will be announced at the Rady JCC Ken Kronson Sports Dinner, to be held June 18. The five finalists are:
Michael Akbashev – Judo; Serena Buchwald - Diving; Yohnatan Elizarov – Figure Skating; Sarah Jacobsohn – Ultimate Sports; and Yonatan Orolov – Baton Twirling.

 

 

Michael Akbashev - Judo

Michael was born in Israel and moved to Winnipeg in 2016. He now is a member of Mark Berger’s West Kildonan judo club.  Michael has earned his brown belt, which is the highest level attainable by a junior judoka. Now 16, he is in Grade 10 at J.H. Bruns Collegiate. Competing in both the 73 and 81 kg categories, he was named by Judo Manitoba as the best Youth Athlete for 2018, after winning gold medals at the Saskatchewan Open Championships. He was also a gold medalist at the Edmonton International Championship and the 2018 Canadian Championship. As well, Michael was a silver medalist at the 2018 Canada Cup in the 73kg class and  a  bronze medalist in the 81kg class at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. In both 2018 and 2019, Michael was selected by Judo Canada to Elite competition.

Serena Buchwald

Serena Buchwald – Diving
Now 19 and a Balmoral Hall graduate, Serena has just completed her freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh. Locally, she competed for the Revolution Diving Club under head coach Dallas Ludwick. In 2016 Serena competed at the senior nationals, qualified for the finals in the three-metre event and earned the opportunity to compete in her first Olympic Trials. Serena was named to Team Manitoba and was a finalist at the 2017 Canada Summer games, finishing in the top 10 on platform. Serena’s best performances come on the 10-metre platform.
 In 2018, Serena was the Manitoba Women’s Diving Champion. Now, as a member of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers Diving Team, Serena is only one of two freshman female divers on the team and the only freshman, male or female competing with a full 10-metre platform list of dives. She placed in the top three at multiple dual meets this NCAA season and consistently scored points for her team at all competitions. She also qualified for the NCAA Qualifying Zone Meet in March and the 2019 Canadian Senior Diving Championships, held in Windsor in May.

 

 

 

Yohnatan Elizarov

Yohnatan Elizarov – Figure Skating
Israeli-born, Yohanatan is now a 15-year-old Grade 10 student at J.H. Bruns Collegiate. Yohnatan became one of the very few Manitoba male skaters to ever reach Skate Canada’s National Championships. After winning the provincial novice men’s title, he placed 9th out of 25 skaters at the 2019 Skate Canada Challenge. That qualified him for the National Skating Championships, held in Saint John, New Brunswick where, in the Novice Men’s category he placed 11th out of 18 competitors. And, at the Canada Winter Games held in February in Red Deer, Yohnatan placed 6th overall. He is currently, the only Elite Team TOBA level skater in Manitoba, and the first Manitoba skater in the last five years to qualify for the National Skating Championship.

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Jacobsohn

Sarah Jacobsohn – Ultimate Sports
Now 18, and about to graduate in  June from Gray Academy, Sarah was named the 2018 Canadian Junior Female Athlete of the Year for being the most dominant player in the junior division. Playing for Winnipeg’s Masters of Flying Objects team, Sarah helped the team achieve multiple bronze medal finishes at the Canadian Championships last year and was named the Most Valuable Player of the finals. She also captained the Manitoba team to the 2018 National Championship, where Manitoba won its first ever gold medal. Then, at the 2018 World Junior Ultimate Championships, she captained the Canadian U20 team to the bronze medal. Prior to that, Sara played for the U20 national team in 2016 when she was only 15, and helped win the World Junior Championships in Poland. She has now been named to the U24 National team and will compete at the 2019 World Championships in Germany this July.

 

 

 

 

Yonatan Orlov

Yonatan Orolov – Baton Twirling
Yonatan is now 20 and a second year Science student at the University of Winnipeg. He started in his sport at age 11, and has travelled all over the world to compete. In 2018 he won the gold medal in all five events at the Manitoba Championships, and at the 2018 Canadian Championships, held here in Winnipeg, he won his solo and freestyle events, was second in three baton, 4th in solo dance, and 5th in two baton. That performance won him the National Ron Kopas Award for the second year in a row, as the event’s top performer, and he was named the Canadian Baton Twirling Federation Male Athlete of the Year. At both the Winter Classic and Valentine events, he won all 5 gold medals. Moving on to the Congressional Cup in Washington, he won the gold medal in 3 baton, finished second in solo and ended up with the silver medal for second place. At the World championships in Florida he placed 12th in the freestyle completion.