The touching way Aussie Commonwealth Games star paid tribute to her Holocaust survivor grandmother
The touching way the Aussie Commonwealth Games star paid tribute to her Holocaust survivor grandma when she won gold on the 10km walk
- Jemima Montag claimed back-to-back Commonwealth Games gold medals
- It comes after her inspiring grandmother died before the Olympics last year
- Montag wears a bracelet made from her grandmother’s necklace to give her inspiration
- Her grandmother is a Holocaust survivor who escaped the horrors of Auschwitz
Australian Commonwealth Games star Jemima Montag claimed an inspiring back-to-back Commonwealth Games gold medal during the 10km walk in Birmingham over the weekend, wearing a touching tribute to her Holocaust survivor grandmother.
A piece of the necklace that belonged to her grandmother — who survived the atrocities of the infamous Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau during World War II — was centered on the 24-year-old’s wrist as she recorded a blistering 42-minute run and 34 seconds.
Montag wearing the bracelet made from her late grandmother’s necklace after winning the 10km walk to claim her second gold medal at the Commonwealth Games event
The necklace was broken into three pieces and split between Montag and her two sisters to honor their late grandmother, and the gold medal-winning champion said it prompted her to succeed.
“I lost my grandmother about a year ago, just before the Olympics, and it’s only in the months that followed that we were able to really unpack her story as a Holocaust survivor,” Montag told the newspaper. ABC.
“It’s something she understandably didn’t want to talk about much, and there was a lot of pain and trauma.
‘I now wear my grandmother’s bracelet as a good luck charm. And it reminds me of that strength and resilience.
“It’s just a very tangible reminder of what she sacrificed for Dad and then for me to even live. Sometimes, you know, sports are hard and come with challenges.
“(But) it reminds me that I choose to be at these games day in, day out and do what I do. And it’s hard, but it should be fun.’
Montag’s grandmother was there to watch her win gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games four years ago, but her time in Auschwitz-Birkenau was rarely talked about.
After her death in 2021, Montag has uncovered the details of how her grandmother fought to survive in the brutal and hostile camp where hundreds of thousands of people were tortured and killed.
“In some of her love letters and diary entries she wrote that she was just trying to get through the next hour, the next day, hoping to meet her father at the gate with a piece of bread,” Montag said.
Montag was overcome with emotion as she claimed her second consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal in the Birmingham long-distance walk
“What I take from that is in a race, it’s a kilometer at a time, it’s one step at a time, not thinking about the finish line.
“You just had to have such a careful balance between taking risks and being a little cheeky when possible.
“Stealing steel food, running from one line to another if it meant not going to the gas chamber, and then following the rules when it was the right thing to do.”
When the going gets tough on the training or competition circuit, Montag needs only to look at the bracelet to draw inspiration from how her grandmother’s quests during World War II meant the difference between life and death.
Montag celebrates on stage with silver medalist India’s Priyanka and bronze medalist Emily Wamusyi Ngii of Kenya at the medal ceremony for the women’s 10km walk
“They marched for days through snow and cold in small sandals and barely any clothes,” she said.
“She and her sister grabbed their waistbands and tied their wrists together and they said, ‘We’ll get through this together or not at all.’
“So just visualize her walking on ice, not knowing when her next meal would be or if she would survive.
‘This one [race walking] is fun and this is something I choose and yes it’s hard, but someone two generations ago had that level of power and I know it’s with me now.”