(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
After an ugly two-year dispute with the Israel Judo Association, Alice Schlesinger has finally found a new home through which to realize her judo dreams.
The 26-year-old Israeli is set to represent Great Britain, with a stamp of approval by the International Judo Federation all that is currently required to make the move official.
After almost two years without taking part in a professional judo competition, Schlesinger won the gold medal in the under-63 kilogram contest at the British Championships in the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Sheffield on Sunday.
Schlesinger, who holds a British passport courtesy of her English-born mother, was delighted with her winning return to the mat.
"I was nervous in my first fights, returning to the judo mat after two years," said Schlesinger, who triumphed in Sheffield exactly 600 days before the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympics. "I eventually felt more comfortable. I thought to myself that this is where I belong and overcame the pressure.
"This is a different country and it is different," she added. "Israel is in my heart and I'm happy." Schlesinger represented Israel at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and has won bronze medals at World and European Championships. However, she fell out with the Israel Judo Association following the London 2012 Olympics, with both sides failing to agree on Schlesinger's training regime. The main points of dispute were regarding the role of her long-time coach and fiance Pavel Mosin and whether she should move up a weight class due to the rise of Yarden Gerbi.
"As a coach I'm delighted that an athlete of this level can realize her potential and as a partner I think that after all she has been through she deserves this as a human being," said Mosin on Sunday.
Schlesinger continued to represent Israel in the non-Olympic martial art of Sambo, winning the gold medal at the World Championships for a second straight time just three weeks ago.
However, she was always intent on returning to the judo mat, and after being granted permission to represent another country by local sporting authorities in April following a long legal fight with the IJA, Schlesinger seems to have now found a new home in Great Britain.