Israel’s Tomy Arshanski (in the blue) just missed out on claiming a bronze medal at the World Judo Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia yesterday..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The World Judo Championships get underway on Monday in Astana, Kazakhstan, with the Israel delegation including seven men and seven women and at least two medal hopefuls.
Shira Rishony (women’s under-48kg) and Tommy Arshanski (men’s under-60kg) will be the first Israelis to enter the fray in the opening day of action, with the national team’s best medal prospects to compete later in the week.
Rishony received a bye into the second round, but she will have to record a major upset to go any further, facing former world champion Haruna Asami of Japan in her first bout.
Arshanski has bitter memories from last year’s global championships after missing out on a medal in heartbreaking fashion in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The 23-year-old lost to Georgian Amiran Papinashvili in the battle for the bronze medal after a controversial decision went against him with just 10 seconds remaining.
Arshanski faces Nkululeko Sihlongonyane of Swaziland in the first round on Monday.
Israel’s best medal hope in Astana is Yarden Gerbi, who joined Yael Arad (1991 - bronze, 1993 - silver) as the only Israelis to claim multiple medals at the World Judo Championships last year, taking a silver after winning the gold a year earlier.
Gerbi will participate in the women’s under-63kg contest on Thursday.
After winning gold at the European Championships in the under-73kg competition two months ago, Sagi Muki is aiming to become just the sixth Israeli to claim a medal at the worlds and follow in the footsteps of Arad (1991 - bronze, 1993 - silver), Oren Smadja (1995 - silver), Arik Ze’evi (2001 - silver), Alice Schlesinger (2009 - bronze) and Gerbi (2013 - gold).
Muki, who is the No. 1 seed, received a first round bye, but faces a tricky test against 2013 bronze medalist Dirk Van Tichelt of Belgium in the second round on Wednesday.
“These are the last world championships before the Rio Olympics and this is the best possible simulation for the real thing,” said women’s national team coach Shany Hershko.