Maccabiah Games debut…Ready to face the best Jewish athletes in the world

Kayla Segal begins her day like most of us. A six-kilometer run to the Cote Saint Luc Aquatic and Community Centre for an hour swim, then back on her feet to retrace the six-kilometer run home, followed by a quick bike ride into the office. All before breakfast.

Now, when you throw in another brisk ride during lunch and one at the end of the day; it’s no wonder that Segal is a favourite to capture Triathlon gold for Team Canada at the 20th Maccabiah Games.

The Masters athlete is making her Maccabiah Games debut but is no stranger to international competition. Fresh off April’s Boston Marathon, Segal’s accomplishments include multiple Ironman finishes and more than two dozen marathons, but she traces her competitive roots to the 1994 JCC Maccabi Games in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I was a high-energy kid and loved all sports,” she said. “I would strap on my ski boots at 6 am and walk around the country house until my parents would take me to the hill.”

“I love to consistently push myself,” she added. “I love sports, I love the energy.”

While skiing has not been added to the Maccabiah Games yet, fortunately for Segal, she took up swimming at age 17. Her prowess in the pool and the taste of competition from the JCC Maccabi Games soon developed into a desire to compete as a triathlete.

While participating in the third largest sporting event in the world, and facing the world’s best Jewish athletes played a role in her desire to join Team Canada this summer, Segal was drawn to the Maccabiah Games because of the Jewish experience and the new challenges she will face.  Segal, mental preparation; visualization and hydration will play a large part in her potential success.

At 39 years old, she believes that her strengths in the bicycle and running segments, coupled with her experience, will give her an upper hand in Israel.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect race,” she said. “I just have to stay calm, get into my zone and not take myself or the situation too seriously. My expectation is to have a blast because that’s when I can crank it.”

Win or lose in Israel, Segal is already serving as an inspiration to children at the English Montreal School Board. This year, she established the Kayla Segal Sports and Wellness Grant. Through her funding and donations from friends and family, one elementary school and one high school will receive a $1,000 grant to support a project related to increasing opportunities for participation in physical activity, promoting good nutritional habits and addressing mental health issues via sport.

“I hope I can help kids use sports to improve their lifestyle,” said Segal. “From a young age, I experienced the psychological, social and physical benefits of living an active lifestyle; I want to pass these opportunities onto as many kids as possible.”