Emile Sadaka: Coming Full Cycle
To say that Montreal’s Emile Sadaka is grateful for the opportunity to compete in Masters Cycling at the 20th Maccabiah Games would be an understatement. Emile’s path to the international competition is one that he hopes inspires young Maccabi Canada athletes to appreciate and soak up the once in a lifetime experience.
Born in Baghdad, Emile’s family immigrated to Montreal when he was a child. While they settled down in the Great White North, the remainder of his relatives relocated to Israel
Ever since then, Israel has played a big part in his life. This connection was only strengthened when at age 27, he spent two years living and working as a mining engineer in the then-developing Jewish State.
“I have so much gratitude for the time I spent in Israel and the way Israelis made me feel like I was one of their own,” he said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return this summer as a Maccabiah athlete, to go back and reconnect with the people while being able to cycle at the same time.”
“I have incredible roots in Israel,” he added. “My heart is in Israel.”
While his metaphorical heart might be in Israel, at age 49, Emile’s actual heart nearly led to the end of his competitive career. Suffering from a murmur, he underwent an experimental, non-invasive heart surgery due. Though the procedure was still in its infancy, the surgery was extremely successful and allowed him to continue taking part in sport and fitness. After his recovery, despite various injuries he had endured throughout his wide-ranging athletic career, Emile wanted to pursue a new challenge: cycling. Immediately, he was hooked on the sport and its supportive community.
“Four years ago, when I first learned about the prospect of racing at the Maccabiah Games from a cyclist, I was like, I’m into this, I really want to do this,” he said. “Ever since then, it’s been on my mind.”
Emile recently started racing in his category to get experience under his belt prior to this summer’s competition. He is determined to finish the race with a commendable time, despite being relatively new when compared to his seasoned opponents. Yet, he’s nonetheless looking forward to meeting Israeli cyclists and seeing how the sport has evolved in the country since his last visit.
As this trip is serving as a quasi-return home, Emile has also carved out some time to volunteer at an orphanage and will be visiting the town where he once lived. As for his family, they, along with his best friend, will be lining the course, cheering him on.
While the trip will nonetheless bring back many memories, Emile is most looking forward to creating new ones, something that he and he hopes the rest of the Canadian delegation will not take for granted.
“Playing or competing in your favourite sport in Israel is something very special,” he said. “You can compete anywhere, but the fact that as a Jew you will be competing in Israel, well, that’s just huge.”
Photo – Emile is in the Blue Maccabi Canada shirt