The Maccabiah Games—dubbed as the “Jewish Olympics”—kicked off its 21st series in Jerusalem, Israel this year with U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in attendance. In its biggest crowd yet since 1932’s first Maccabiah Games, athletes from more than 60 countries competed in over 40 sports, making it the world’s third largest sports competition.
Michaely and Kawabata (Goldberg), both 13 years old, are part of Jewish community in Singapore who attended the Maccabiah Games. They have been training in Rhythmic Gymnastics at Bianka Panova Academy for almost 6 years. Michaely has attended more than 30 local and international competitions, including the Singapore National Championship 2019 when she won 1st place in the Individual All Around for Stage 2 10 years and under. Meanwhile, Kawabata (Goldberg) has participated in over 20 local and international competitions, including the Juvenile Gathering Competition in Japan in 2019 when she won 1st place. Besides Rhythmic Gymnastics, both hold interests in other artistic forms. Michaely loves drawing and art, while Kawabata (Goldberg) was casted in the Singapore Trilogy (2021) by The Second Breakfast Company. Both were also part of the main cast in Things I Wish You Knew (2021), a short film produced by Bianka Panova Academy.
Accompanying Michaely and Kawabata (Goldberg) to the Maccabiah Games is Daniela Michaely and Bianka Panova, co-founders of Bianka Panova Academy. Panova is also the Head Coach who coaches Michaely and Kawabata (Goldberg). An Olympian and nine-time world champion in Rhythmic Gymnastics in the 1980s, Panova considers Singapore her second home and is dedicated to empowering the next generation of gymnasts.
Prior to the Maccabiah Games, Michaely and Kawabata (Goldberg) were some of the athletes from Bianka Panova Academy who took part in an intensive training camp in Israel. The ten-day programme on 10-19 July 2022 was a cross-cultural collaboration between BPA and Israeli Rhythmic Gymnastics Club, the Maccabi Tel Aviv, designed to hone the skills of the competitive athletes from Singapore as they trained with overseas coaches and athletes.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is one of the largest sports clubs in Israel which has nurtured great talents such as Nicol Zelikman (ISR) and Linoy Ashram (ISR). Both of whom are 2020 Tokyo Olympic Athletes and World Champions in Rhythmic Gymnastics.
About Bianka Panova Academy
With Rhythmic Gymnastics being a growing sport in Singapore and around the world, it is Bianka Panova Academy’s great honour to train the next generation of athletes and provide opportunities for international participation. Since 2015, BPA has worked to contribute to the long-term development of Singaporean gymnasts and to empower girls to achieve their full potential through the sport. The time and effort invested in the sport and community remain a crucial step in the development of youth in Singapore toward achievements in international competitions.
Bianka Panova Academy, in collaboration with Sport SG, will be organising an inaugural Singapore International Rhythmic Gymnastics Cup 2022 (SIRGC) from 16-19 December 2022. As part of BPA’s continual efforts to bring the sport to the national and international stage, the SIRGC will be a cornerstone event featuring local and international gymnasts. Accompanying the competition will be performances, talks, games, workshops and masterclasses by the guests-of-honour Olympic Gold Medallist Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Group, who will be coming to Singapore for the first time.
BPA's Ayala Michaely and Neina Goldberg's journey in Maccabiah 2022