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We recently spoke with Charly Santagado, alumnus of the 2013 Maccabiah Games, about her experience with Maccabi USA’s Open Women’s Gymnastics team. Read below to find out about Charly’s time spent in Israel competing and on the ISRAEL CONNECT program!

Charly headshot

Charly Santagado had a Maccabiah experience unlike most, taking home 5 medals from the 2013 Games for her performances as a gymnast.  As a member of the Open Women’s Gymnastics team, she won bronze medals in the individual vault and all-around competitions, a silver medal in the floor exercise, a gold medal in the uneven bars, and a silver team medal.  “The competition was very exciting; the stands were completely packed and the amount of cheering and energy in the gym was incredible,” said Charly.  “Coming back to the United States with five medals was pretty amazing.”



Having achieved great success in the competition portion of the Maccabiah Games, one would expect that to be Charly’s most memorable experience.  Not so.  “The ISRAEL CONNECT program was probably the most life-changing part of my experience,” exclaimed Charly.  “It gave me different perspectives and brought me closer to fellow Jewish athletes, many that I still keep in contact with and visit.”


Entering Ramat Gan Stadium prior to the Opening Ceremony as a member of Team USA sticks out as a major highlight.  As Charly describes it, “the Opening Ceremony was like nothing I’ve ever been involved in before.  Walking out in front of such an enormous audience was so inspiring, and I still feel giddy thinking about everybody cheering for us as we chanted ‘USA, USA’ over and over again.”



Charly is planning to apply for the 2017 Maccabiah Games as a member of the Open Women’s Gymnastics team. “I had such a great experience at the 2013 Games that I can’t imagine not trying to go again in 2017,” Charly said. “Who wouldn’t want to go and represent their country in such an exciting event?”


Maccabi USA is currently seeking Jewish gymnasts to compete at the Pan American Maccabi Games for the Juniors Girls’ Gymnastics team, birth years 1999-2002.  For more information, please contact Shane Carr, Program Director, at 267.627.5647 or



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Join us at the European Maccabi Youth Games in London (July 28-August 6, 2024)
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