A 28-member contingent of Indian Jews boarded a flight to Israel from the city on Thursday evening to compete with Jews from all over the world at the Maccabiah Games 2013, also known as the Jewish Olympics.
The Games, which will begin on July 18, is one of the world's largest sporting events and is expected to bring in 9000 Jewish athletes from more than 70 countries.
Indian Jews, who number about 5,000, have been participating in the Games since 1953, when a team competed in water polo.
They won their first medals in 1957, winning gold in boxing and table tennis.
“This is the largest contingent from the country to compete in the Games,” said Sam Marshall, who heads Maccabi India, the official association that sends athletes from the country to the Games. “This year, we will compete for the first time in several sports such as lawn tennis, golf and karate, and we are hoping to get medals,” he said.
The training for athletes had intensified over the last few months.
“The cricket team trained at Azad Maidan, while training for indoor sports was conducted in a hall in the Gate of Heaven Synagogue in Thane, which has assigned a room exclusively for athletes,” said Ezra Moses, secretary of the synagogue, and deputy head of the Indian Jewish contingent for the Games.
The athletes are confident of returning with medals.
“The cricket team won a silver last time and we didn’t even have a coach,” said Noah Ashtamkar, captain of the Jewish cricket team.
“This time, we trained under Vidya Paradkar, who has coached some Indian team players, and he will accompany us. We are sure to come back with a gold,” he said.