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Spitz Returns to Maccabiah Games -- July 12, 2005

JERUSALEM, Israel, July 12. MARK Spitz has returned to where he won his first gold medal 40 years ago, this time leading an 800-member delegation at the 17th Maccabiah Games.

Spitz, 55, won seven gold medals and set seven world records in the 1972 Munich Olympics, a feat that has never been equaled. Now he's leading a U.S. delegation at the Maccabiah Games, known as the “Jewish Olympics,” which are under way in Kfar Netter, Israel.

The day after Spitz, an American Jew, won his seventh gold medal in 1972, he was taken from the Olympic Village after Palestinian terrorists attacked the Israeli quarters. In a shootout with German police, 11 Israeli athletes, held hostage by the terrorists, were killed.

Spitz said his 1965 participation at the Maccabiah Games helped launch his career.

“It's the vision for a number of athletes who come to the Maccabiah that they might one day be able to participate in future Olympics,” he said.