Jemima Montag carries a reminder of her late grandmother, Holocaust survivor Judith, with her in every race.
- Jemima Montag made it back-to-back Commonwealth Games gold medals in the race walking
- Montag took inspiration from her grandmother, whose Holocaust ordeal was revealed in journals discovered after her death
- Meanwhile Eleanor Patterson said she was ‘disappointed’ to have missed out on high jump gold
A gold bracelet, made from one of her grandmother’s necklaces, was on Montag’s wrist as she won a gold medal in the women’s 10,000 meters race walk at the Commonwealth Games.
“It’s certainly a lucky charm. I can feel it there wobbling around and she’s with me,” Montag said.
Judith died before last year’s Tokyo Olympics and had not spoken about her Holocaust survival story, which included time in the Auschwitz concentration camp, because of the trauma associated with it.
But after the Olympics, Montag and her aunty looked through Judith’s persona mementos.
“In some of her love letters and journal entries, she wrote about just trying to make it through the next hour the next day, just hoping to meet her dad at the gate with a piece of bread,” Montag shared after the race.
“And I think what I take from that is in a race, it’s one kilometer at a time, it’s one step at a time, not thinking about the finish line.”
It also helps put things in perspective, with a story about the death march near the end of the Holocaust particularly resonating with Montag.
“They marched through snow and cold for days on end in little sandals, and hardly any clothing,” she said.
“And she and her sister took their waistband and tied their wrists together. And they said, ‘we’re getting through this together or not at all.’
“And just visualizing her walking on ice, not knowing when the next meal would be or if she would survive.
“This is fun, and this is something I choose to do, and yes, it’s hard. But someone just two generations ago had that level of strength. And I know it’s with me now.”
She is planning to write a book about her grandmother’s experiences, but for the moment medical school and athletics are taking up most of her time.
Montag raced to perfection
Montag won the 20km race walk on the Gold Coast, but in Birmingham the distance was halved, and instead of being on the road, it was held as a track race inside Alexander Stadium.
And she was in a league of her own.
An early pack of three athletes formed, including Montag just hanging behind India’s Priyanka and Kenya’s Emily Ngii.
But halfway through the race, the Australian made her move, and once she did that, she created a huge lead which built throughout the race.
Coming into the final lap, she was able to enjoy the moment, acknowledging the crowd and pointing out her supporters.
And she is proud to continue Australia’s strong history in the sport.
“At the last Comm Games having Nathan Deakes, one of our best put the gold medal around my neck was a real life changing moment.
“It almost felt like the baton was being handed over to me to carry on the legacy, and we’re really lucky in Australia to have those role models that have come before us.
“So I hope I can keep breaking their records and keep entertaining the Aussie crowd.”
“I didn’t turn up”. World Champion Patterson claims silver in high jump
Eleanor Patterson was “disappointed” and “frustrated” after her silver medal in the women’s high jump.
“I didn’t really show what I could do at all. I wasn’t jumping how I can and how I usually do and so it’s just really frustrating,” she said.
Two weeks ago, the 26-year-old became the first Australian to win the event at the World Championships, making her the favorite to win gold in Birmingham.
And she started well – choosing to pass the first three heights, before entering the competition at 1.85m.
She had her first stumble at 1.92m, and progressed on her second jump.
Then the pressure really came on at 1.95m when Jamaica’s Lamara Distin cleared it at the first attempt.
Patterson failed all three of her attempts at the height, to settle for the silver, and fell well short of the 2.02m that won her gold in Oregon.
And she was brutal in her self-assessment.
“Maybe I need to adjust to that expectation title that’s attached to my name,” she said.
“I honestly think that there’s no excuses though. I’m world champion, but who cares. I’m still gonna come out and perform every time.
“I didn’t turn up and I didn’t do what I was supposed to do.
“I hold myself accountable for this. This is on me and there are no excuses under the sun that can explain why I didn’t show up.”
Charlton enjoys first Commonwealth Games experience
Patterson might have been unhappy with silver, but Australia’s Julie Charlton was overjoyed with just being able to compete in Birmingham.
Charlton, who spent a few months as an intern with ABC Sport in the lead up to the Games, was ninth in the women’s F55-57 shot put final.
“The atmosphere in this stadium is beyond mind blowing,” she said.
“Just being able to come out of the door and see everyone cheering and being fully involved in the para athletes that were coming out in the line, it was absolutely spectacular.
“And then just to go out there and throw for my country was insane.”