Israel’s Ori Sasson won a silver medal at the European Championships for a second straight year.
(photo credit: OLYMPIC COMMITTEE OF ISRAEL)
Or Sasson ensured the Israeli delegation ended the European Judo Championships in Kazan, Russia, on a sweet note after claiming a silver medal in the event for a second straight year on Saturday.
Sasson ended the over-100 kilogram competition in second place, only being stopped in the final by Olympic and world champion Teddy Riner of France.
The 25-year-old Israeli needed just 16 seconds to knock out Daniel Natea of Romania with an ippon in the semis, but struggled against Riner, a seven-time world champion who picked up his fifth European title on Saturday.
“This is a very important achievement for me and a step forward ahead of Rio,” said Sasson, who will receive a NIS 28,000 bonus from the joint fund of the Olympic Committee of Israel, the Israel Sports Betting Board and the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
The Israeli delegation finished the championships with two medals, one fewer than last year, with Timna Nelson Levy winning a surprise bronze in the women’s under-57 kilogram competition in the first day of the event on Thursday.
Sasson’s achievement helped the delegation overcome the disappointment from Friday when Sagi Muki and Yarden Gerbi failed to repeat last year’s success.
Muki was targeting his second straight gold medal in the under-73kg competition, but was stunned in the third round by Slovenia’s Martin Hojak.
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Gerbi, who took a bronze last year, was aiming to add a European title to the world crown she won in 2013. but after progressing safely to the semifinals, she suffered a defeat to Kathrin Unterwurzacher of Austria before losing to Anicka Van Emden of the Netherlands in the bout for the bronze. Gerbi, nevertheless, tried to focus on the positives from the competition.
“I’m disappointed with the result, but I end the championships feeling optimistic about the future,” she explained. “I always have the will to win medals, especially in events like the European Championships, but saying that, I’m still aware that my main goal this year is to succeed in Rio. I’ll return home, recover from the competition and continue to prepare for Rio in the best way possible.”
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