Keynote Speaker: Leah Goldstein
Prepare to be swept into the mind of a champion…
Leah Goldstein was born in Canada, conceived in Israel, and raised in Vancouver, B.C. by new immigrant parents.
Leah’s grandfather was the only one of his family that survived the German invasion. He fled to China, where he met and married his wife. Her grandmother survived 2 months in Auschwitz. The full history of Leah's family is astonishing, as well is her life story.
Growing up in Richmond, B.C., daughter of a boxer, Leah had a dream to be just like Bruce Lee. Leah became involved in martial arts, Tae Kwon Do and Kickboxing.
After being told she should never fight again because she had herniated disks in her back, Leah won the Bantamweight World Kickboxing Championship at age 17, against a 25 year old fighter a foot taller than she was!
Once World Kickboxing Champion, Leah met with producers and was presented with scripts for a movie deal, (sort of Karate Kid the girl version).
Leah was not interested in the idea at that time and had other plans. As a child she had always wanted to be Bruce Lee, but now that she had attained a World Championship Belt, her vision focused in on James Bond!
Leah always knew that she would return to Israel, she had spent time there with family as a child and she loved it. Leah felt a deep desire to serve her time in the Israeli Army, (a mandatory 2 years for women and 3 years for men). Leah knew that she wouldn’t be satisfied just being a soldier, she wanted to become the first woman ever to be an Elite Commando.
Leah faced many obstacles, battled bullies and sexism and was ensured she would never make it because she was a woman. Leah fought fear, loneliness and anger amidst an unmatched work-ethic and overwhelming drive to succeed. She didn't just become an elite commando, she became a Krav Maga specialist (an Israeli Army self defense training to fight and kill with your bare hands), and became the first female Elite Commando Instructor.
Leah then transitioned into a Special Forces unit, combating terrorism and violent crime. After part of her undercover team was murdered and she was sent a message that she would be next, the extreme lifestyle of the secret police took its final toll and she found her salvation on a bicycle. She convinced Israel to release her, as she pursued a brilliant 10-year career as a professional cyclist in Europe and North America.
Leah returned to Canada and quickly made the provincial team, then was selected to the national development squad, racing in the Tour de France after only three years of cycling. Leah was winning local races and headed toward the 2004 Olympics when she broke her hand after hitting a pothole during a race in Pennsylvania.
In 2005, in the Cascade Classic race at Bend, Oregon, Leah was airlifted to a hospital trauma unit, with multiple broken bones including a broken hip, ribs, cheek, teeth, ankle, skin ripped and burned head to toe after being run into by a competitor.
Leah was hospitalized for 2.5 months and was informed by doctors that she would never race again, let alone walk without a cane. Leah proved them all wrong, began wheeling her wheel chair around her room and eventually pulling herself around a race track with her feet, while still in the wheel chair. After this life changing accident and the massive pain involved in healing and retraining herself, in 2011, Leah went on to win the Women’s Solo Division of one of the world’s most excruciating physical challenges -the Ultra Endurance, 3000 Mile, 12 day, single stage race: the Race Across America.
All this with her head shaved, taped and tied back as a result of Shermer's Neck on Day 4 of 12.
On the evening June 26th,2021 Leah Goldstein made history. At 52 years old, Leah became the 1st female ever to WIN the overall SOLO division of the gruelling Race Across America in its 39 year history.
Leah's story is one of triumph over any of life's obstacles.