Meet Canada’s Flag Bearer
Maccabi Canada: How does it feel to be named as Canada’s flag bearer?
Albert Shoihet: I am surprised and honoured. I participated in the 2013 Maccabiah Games and I am well aware of the magnitude and pedigree of the Canadian delegation. I am excited to lead this amazing group into the spectacle that is the Opening Ceremonies.
MC: Squash is a unique sport; how did you first get involved and what drives you to compete?
AS: I got into squash at a very young age with my first experience coming during a tennis and squash summer day camp when I was 7 or 8 years old. As a kid my dream was to play in the NHL and in addition to squash, I was also playing AAA hockey for the Vaughan Kings in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. However, at that time, I won the Under 13 Squash National Championship and for a young boy to be the best in one sport was a factor in choosing squash, but also, I enjoyed playing an individual where I had much more control, so I swapped out the NHL dream to be a professional squash player.
When I was 15 years old, I suffered a knee injury that required a couple operations and I was told that I would not be able to play squash anymore. Ever since, this has acted as the core of my ambition to regain that confidence in my body and to grasp the psychological mastery that is necessary to let myself play to my potential. The goal is always to enable one great shot at a time, winning is just one of the rewarding byproducts.
MC: Why did you decide to compete in the 20th Maccabiah Games?
AS: In the 19th Maccabiah Games, I came home with two silver medals and an experience and friendships that yield fruit to this day. The Games are is an incredible, one of a kind event that I wouldn’t miss for the world. People like [Maccabi Canada President] Tommy Bacher, [Maccabi Canada Executive Director] Tali Dubrovsky and many others within the organization, along with other supporters of Jewish athletics, make this happen every four years and on behalf of Jewish Canadian athletes past, present and future thank you!
MC: How have you been training for the upcoming Games?
AS: My professional season ended in early of May. After taking a week off, I went back to work: getting fitter, stronger as well as working a lot on my mobility. I also increased my meditation practice.
MC: Tell us about your other competitive experience, how does that help you prepare for the Maccabiah Games?
AS: I think the irony about preparation is that you can only control what you can control. I believe it is better to relish the adversity that you know will come.
MC: What are your expectations for these Games?
AS: Big smiles and beautiful people.
MC: What level of competition do you expected to face?
AS: I expect that I will need to bring out the best in myself to upgrade my silver medals from last Games.
MC: What advice do you have for other athletes, including those representing Maccabi Canada, who will compete in the Games for the first time?AS: My advice would be to go with the flow, minimize your expectations, immerse yourselves into the spectacle and community that is the Maccabiah Games. Thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to showcase your talents on such a great stage.
MC: Any advice for athletes when they are not competing?
AS: Enjoy and embrace.