Yarden Gerbi’s hopes of adding the European title to her World Championship crown ended in a shock early exit in Montpelier, France on Friday.
The 24-year-old, who won the gold medal at the World Championships in Rio last year, was aiming to take her third consecutive medal at the Europeans after claiming a silver and bronze in the event in the past two years.
However, after receiving a first-round bye in Montpelier, Gerbi, ranked No. 1 in the world in the under-63 kilogram weight class, was stunned in the second round by Agata Ozdoba of Poland, who sent her packing despite being ranked 102 places below the Israeli.
“I’m really disappointed with myself,” said Gerbi. “I didn’t expect something like this. But as hard as it is to take, I understand that poor tournaments are also part of the course. This will only make me train harder and be stronger in the future. It is always fun to be on the winning side, but you need to know how to lose in order to triumph.”
The Israel delegation in Montpelier numbered 11 judokas and will return home with one medal thanks to Gili Cohen.
Cohen claimed a bronze medal in the women’s under-52kg competition in the opening day of the championships on Thursday, beating Russian Yulia Ryzhova in the fight for third place.
Amelie Rosseneu, representing Israel in a major event for the first time after moving to the country from Belgium to live with partner and fellow judoka Roni Schwartz, came within a win of taking a bronze, losing to Kristina Rumyantseva of Russia in the decisive battle.
Israel’s women’s coach Shany Hershko was named on Saturday as the European coach of the year.