When 22-year-old Rebecca Weissbard died last August, her parents never thought they’d see her shine in the equestrian world again.
But Eric and Lynne Weissbard were in for a surprise when they were invited to return to the Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv to help present a gold medal in their daughter’s honor. The Weissbards returned home Thursday after five days in Israel.
“Like with anything that’s happened to us in the past year, it’s bittersweet,” Eric Weissbard, of Manorville, said Friday. “On one hand it was an awesome honor to be asked to come and present the medal and represent her. On the other hand, it’s not bringing her back. She’s still gone.”
Weissbard was killed Aug. 31, 2016, while riding in a jumping competition in upstate Saugerties. Her horse failed to clear a jump and fell on top of her.
In 2013, Weissbard had taken the gold at the games’ equestrian sports. It was the first time show jumping had been included in the Olympic-style games, which happen every four years in Tel Aviv, and attract thousands of Jewish athletes from around the world.
Eric Weissbard said the hardest part of the experience was watching a video tribute to his daughter that played before the medal ceremony Wednesday. He and his wife presented a gold medal in the same category that their daughter had previously won to a Swiss rider.
“You try to keep a good game face,” he said. “You’re watching your kid, her whole life, and it’s very emotional.”
Event officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Maccabi USA Equestrian Sports team posted its own tribute to Weissbard on Facebook just before the games began.
“Becca, we are so proud of you! May her memory be a blessing to all who knew her,” the post read.