Yarden Gerbi received a hero’s welcome at Ben-Gurion Airport August 31 after winning silver medal at World Judo Championships in Russia.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yarden Gerbi is aiming to become the first Israeli to win three medals at the World Judo Championships on Thursday when she competes in the women’s under-63 kilogram competition in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Gerbi was the first Israeli to be crowned world champion two years ago and followed it up by claiming a silver medal last year, joining Yael Arad (1991 - bronze, 1993 - silver) as the only Israelis to win multiple medals at the event.
Only six Israelis have ever scaled the podium at the Worlds, with Golan Pollack becoming the latest on Tuesday, joining Gerbi, Arad, Oren Smadja (1995 - silver), Arik Ze’evi (2001 - silver) and Alice Schlesinger (2009 - bronze).
Schlesinger, who now represents Great Britain after falling out with the Israel Judo Association, will also compete in the under-63kg event on Thursday.
Gerbi enters the competition as the world No. 3 and received a bye into the second round where she awaits the winner of the bout between Hannah Martin of the USA and Phupu Khatri of Nepal.
Gerbi won the bronze medal at the European Championships two months ago, claiming her third medal in four years at the continental showcase.
One of Israel’s best medal hopes in Astana disappointingly missed out on a place on the podium on Wednesday, with reigning European champion Sagi Muki, who was the No. 1 seed in the under-73kg competition, losing in the quarterfinals and then the repechage.
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Muki, who received a bye into the second round, opened his day with three wins before dropping to a defeat in the quarterfinals against eventual gold medalist, Shohei Ono of Japan.
Muki still had a chance to claim a bronze medal via the repechage, but struggled against Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal of Mongolia and is set to drop in the world rankings.
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