Judoka wins first 2016 Olympic medal for Israel

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August 9, 2016 23:03
1 minute read.

 
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After eight years, the wait is finally over.

Israel won its first Olympic medal since 2008 on Tuesday after Yarden Gerbi claimed a bronze medal in the women's under-63 kilogram judo competition at the Rio Olympics.

Gerbi became the fourth Israeli judoka to take an Olympic medal, joining Yael Arad (silver medal - Barcelona 1992), Oren Smadja (bronze - Barcelona 1992) and Arik Ze'evi (bronze - Athens 2004). Israel's four other medals came courtesy of Gal Fridman (bronze - Atlanta 1996, gold - Athens 2004), Michael Kolganov (bronze - Sydney 2000) and Shahar Zubari (bronze - Beijing 2008).

Gerbi also became just the second Israeli woman to win a medal, joining Arad.

Gerbi was considered to be one of the delegation's best medal hopes in Rio, but had experienced several near misses in recent major events.

After claiming a gold medal at the 2013 Worlds and a silver in the event the following year, she ended last year's edition, as well as this year's European Championships, in fifth place, losing in the bouts for the bronze medal.

However, after suffering a disappointing defeat to Brazil's Mariana Silva in the quarterfinals in Rio, Gerbi bounced back to beat Junxia Yang of China in her first bout in the repechage before overcoming Miku Tashiro of Japan in the battle for the bronze.

Gerbi carried the expectations of an entire nation on her shoulders on Tuesday, especially after fellow judoka Sagi Muki came so close to claiming a medal the previous day. The pressure on Gerbi had been building ever since she became the first Israeli judoka to be crowned world champion three years ago. It didn't show in Rio, with Gerbi holding her nerve and clinching a place on the podium with a combination of skill and class.

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