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Israeli believer to represent the country in world sport competition

An Israeli believer was selected to represent the Jewish state in the World Championships Acrobatic Gymnastics competition in April.

Ezra Short, 17, an acrobatic gymnast who lives in Holon, has been selected to be in the Junior Men’s Group that will represent Israel on the world stage. The 26th World Championships Acrobatic Gymnastics competition will take place between April 13 to 15 in Antwerp, Belgium.

Acrobatics, a relatively new sport worldwide, is even newer in Israel. The team sport involves synchronized tumbling and pyramid-building, accompanied by music.

Originally simply a display of the human body’s extreme abilities, acrobatics has evolved over time into a recognized competitive sport. It is not yet an Olympic sport, but this year it will be introduced in the Youth Olympics for the first time.

Ezra spoke with KNI about this exciting time in his life, his personal journey to this accomplishment and how his faith has played a role.

“I have always been energetic. My mom says that she could feel my strong legs kicking her in the womb. I have always liked jumping, running and climbing. My parents enrolled me in gymnastics with my older sister at a very low level at the age of 6. I had my first competition when I was 7.

“Since I was young, my parents pointed me towards the Bible. In Colossians 3:17, 23 it says that whatever we do, we do it for the Lord and not for men and whatever we do, we should work at it with all our heart. So that is what I have tried to do.

“I kept practicing and competing at that level until I was 13. On my 14th birthday I started acrobatics at club level, which began a new chapter in my life. Since then, I have learned so much and accomplished a lot on a personal level and in a team. At first I was in a group of four, then in a mens pair and three months ago I was put into this mens four. We train for many hours every day, for five or six days a week.

“High level sports involves a lot of pain and hard work, a lot of endurance and perseverance and there have been a lot of times that have not been easy for me. There were times I didnt want to continue, but then I thought about how God has given me this opportunity and He is there with me.

“There have been times when I have seen Biblical principles in action — there are a lot of life lessons in acrobatics — especially about not giving up because you cant get to a certain point if you dont keep pushing. I am surrounded by people who dont know God and dont know the Bible, so that has its own challenges too.”

Ezra explained that in the competition three routines are performed on a 12×12-meter spring floor, including balance, dynamic and combination. Each routine is approximately two minutes in length and showcases the team’s strength, balance, agility, flexibility, their ability to throw and catch each other and artfully build pyramids.

Ezra practicing as a young child (Photo courtesy)
Ezra practicing as a young child (Photo courtesy)

The acrobats wear different outfits for each routine. All the outfits are custom-made and hand-stitched since every athlete has a different build. The Men’s Four team is comprised of a base, middle one, middle two and a top. Ezra is the base.

His parents have started a crowd-funding campaign to help pay for the three outfits, airfare and other expenses required for the World Championships.

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Israeli-born Dee Catz is a Jewish believer in Yeshua, happily married with children. She has an interest in cooking and baking and all things Biblical. History, Geography, and Archaeology are some of her favorite hobbies, as well as touring Israel's national parks and landmark sites with her family and friends. She has been contributing to Kehila News Israel since December 2015.

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