Arik Ze’evi is on the verge of qualifying for his fourth straight Olympic Games
after winning a gold medal at the Grand Slam event in Moscow on
The 34-year-old Israeli defeated Cyrille Maret of France in the
final of the under-100-kilogram competition after beating 2009 world champion
Maxim Rakov in the semis.
Ze’evi’s achievement was marred by a slight
controversy when Egyptian Ramadan Darwish refused to shake his hand and quickly
walked away at the end of their quarterfinal bout.
The referee ordered
Darwish back onto the floor, but the Egyptian still wouldn’t shake Ze’evi’s hand
and left swiftly after giving the traditional bow.
“In the last year I
proved to myself and to everyone else that I’m among the world’s best,” Ze’evi
said. “I hadn’t heard the Hatikva in a while and I was very emotional. The 300
rankings points I picked up for this win effectively clinch my place in the
London Games and my goal now will be to continue to move up the rankings in
order to get a better draw in the Olympics.”
Ze’evi won a bronze medal at
the 2004 Games in Athens and feels that he has a real shot at scaling the podium
once more in London.
“It is slightly pretentious to talk about winning an
Olympic medal at this stage,” Ze’evi said. “But currently I’m at a level that
could see me take a medal.”