Israeli judoka Golan Pollack competing against Loic Korval of France.
(photo credit: OLYMPIC COMMITTEE OF ISRAEL)
Golan Pollack joined an exclusive list of local judo greats on Tuesday after becoming just the sixth Israeli to claim a medal at the World Championships.
Pollack won a surprise bronze medal in the under-66 kilogram competition in Astana, Kazakhstan in the most dramatic of fashions.
The 23-year-old looked to be heading to a defeat against Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj of Mongolia in the battle for the bronze, only to overturn the deficit with a crucial move that earned him a yuko with nine seconds remaining.
Pollack followed in the footsteps of Yael Arad (1991 – bronze, 1993 – silver), Oren Smadja (1995 – silver), Arik Ze’evi (2001 – silver), Alice Schlesinger (2009 – bronze) and Yarden Gerbi (2013 – gold, 2014 – silver), who are the only Israelis to have previously won a medal at the World Judo Championships.
“This feels amazing,” said Pollack. “I was waiting for this competition and I’m really happy that everything fell into place at the right time. I’m only starting to comprehend what I achieved. I’m so happy that I managed to peak after a period of ups and downs.”
Pollack, who entered the competition as the world No. 23, overcome world No. 1 Georguii Zantaraia of Ukraine in the second round before defeating France’s Loic Korval (10) in the last 16. Pollack then beat Italy’s Elio Verde in the quarterfinals before losing to South Korean Baul An (20) in the semis.
He also seemed set to be heading to a painful defeat to Davaadorj (3) in the bronze medal bout, only to record a dramatic comeback and etch his name into Israeli judo history books.
“I had a tough draw but I gave my all,” said Pollack. “I’m happy I rebounded from the defeat in the semis to win a medal.”
On Wednesday, Israeli Sagi Muki, the reigning European champion in the under- 73kg category, will enter the fray in Astana.