Written By Dylan Manfre
JERUSALEM — “It’s Miller time.”
Aside from it being the slogan for a popular American beer, it is what Maccabi USA sprinter Aaron Miller said in his post-race interview on July 20.
Miller’s day at Hebrew University’s track complex lasted 21.68 seconds and resulted in a bronze medal in the open division 200-meter run. The 21st Maccabiah, the third largest sporting event, was Miller’s debut on the international stage. He did not have many expectations entering the race.
“I just cleared my mind, got into my blocks and did what I’ve been training to do which is run hard and finish strong and that’s what I did,” said Miller who runs at Yale University.
He shared the medal stage with Blessing Afrifa and Aviv Koffler, both of Israel, who finished first and second, respectively in the race. Miller was 0.22 seconds off from second.
Many Maccabiah athletes have unique stories about how they hear about the game but Miller was put onto the prospect of the Jewish Olympics by his coach at Yale, David Shoehalter.
“He ran it back in … let’s say late 80s, 90s,” Miller said. “We talked about it, I got in touch with the coach, he thought it was a good idea.”
After he got encouragement from his coach and the blessing to extend his season even longer. Never did he think a place on the podium was in store. He also never envisioned having such an increased connection with his religion.
Participating in the Maccabiah and going through the Israel Connect program, a one-week culture precursor to the games aimed at bringing athletes closer to the holy land, helped him feel more in touch with his Jewish roots.
“The fact that we all share something in common as competitors in track and field … and you compound that with the fact that you’re Jewish and you have that second type of connection,” Miller said. “You have a really strong bond … you’re gonna remember for sure,”