Israeli judoka Ori Sasson.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After more than a year away from competition, Ori Sasson made a triumphant return to the judo mat on Sunday, winning the gold medal in the over-100 kilogram weight class at the Grand Prix event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Sasson was competing for the first time since claiming the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in August 2016. The 27-year-old returned to training later than planned after undergoing knee surgery last November following an injury he suffered while playing basketball with friends. He missed this year’s European and World Championships, but returned in time for the end of the season and proved on Sunday that he is doing so in good form.
The top ranked judokas in his weight class didn’t compete in Tashkent and Sasson received a bye into the quarterfinals due to a lack of participants. But Sasson can nevertheless be pleased by overcoming two Uzbek opponents before defeating Iurii Krakovetskii of Kyrgyzstan in the final.
Sasson will compete later this month in the Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi before participating in the Open World Championships in Marrakesh, Morocco next month where the winner will receive 100,000 euros.
“Ori underwent a long rehabilitation process and as part of the plan I built for Ori after the Olympics I included a long break,” said Israel men’s national team coach Oren Smadja. “Today I know that this decision led to Sagi Muki and Ori Sasson continuing for another Olympics.”
Muki won the gold medal in the men’s under-81kg event in Tashkent on Saturday.
In the women’s competitions in Tashkent, Yarden Mayersohn took the bronze medal in the under-78kg event on Sunday. Mayersohn beat Zarina Raifova of Kazakhstan in the decisive bout.
In the opening day of competition in Tashkent, Betina Temelkova won a gold in the under-52kg contest, while Timna Nelson Levy took a silver in the under-57kg.