Israeli judokas won three medals in an international championship in Qatar this week.
On Friday, two Israeli judokas brought back medals, where Inbar Lanir (up to 78 kg division) delivered a great day of fights and won gold against all odds, while Peter Paltchik won a bronze medal in the up to 100 kg weight division. This is, therefore, the most successful world championship in Israel's history and the first time that the delegation will return with two medals from the same tournament.
Lanir began her journey with a judo match against a Polish opponent that ended in her victory. In the round of 16, she beat the Slovenian Patricia Brockli. The big victory of the day for her came in the quarter-finals when she beat the Chinese Zhenzhou Ma, the runner-up of the world champion.
In the semi-finals came another huge victory for Lanir, who dramatically beat the Italian Alice Blundi, ranked number 1 in the world. Blundi beat Lanir in all four previous meetings between them and was likely to win this time as well after taking the lead, but a few seconds before the end of the fight Lanir bounced back, which secured her a place in the finals.
In the finals, she also surprised the 33-year-old French judoka Audrey Chomeau, who had previously won an Olympic silver medal, a gold medal at the World Championships and four gold medals at the European Championships.
Lanir is the tenth Israeli to win an individual medal at the World Championships, and the third to win a gold medal after Yarden Jarbi in 2013 and Shagia Muki in 2019.
ברכות לענבר לניר על הזכייה במדליית זהב ולפיטר פלצ׳יק על הזכייה במדליית הארד באליפות העולם בג׳ודו! הבאתם למדינת ישראל הרבה כבוד עם הישגים מדהימים ואנו גאים בכם! pic.twitter.com/GxyaagidS9— יצחק הרצוג Isaac Herzog (@Isaac_Herzog) May 12, 2023
Paltchik advanced automatically to the second round and started the day with an impressive win over Japan's Kentaro Ida in 41 seconds that gave Paltchik the ticket to the round of 16, where he beat Russian Niel Eliasov, a bronze medalist.
In his next fight, he met Zalim Kostoyev Hazari, a bronze medalist from the previous world championship. Paltchik hoped to win but made an illegal move that cost him a disqualification. But Palachik did not give up on the bronze medal; at the consolation house, he beat the Kazakh judoka Nurlikhan Shahrhan, whom he had already beaten once.
In the battle for bronze, he was supposed to meet a familiar face - Canadian judoka Shady Elnahas, who defeated him in the consolation bracket at the Tokyo Olympics, but about an hour and a half before the fight, the Canadian Judo Association announced that Elnahas was ineligible to compete and would not show up. Therefore, Paltchik won the bronze.
On Saturday, the Israeli delegation ended its participation in the World Judo Championship in Qatar with a third medal earned by Raz Hershko.
After Lanir's gold and Paltchik's bronze, which already made the championship Israel's most successful ever, Hershko improved the achievement when she also stood on the podium with a bronze medal.
Hershko, 24, who is ranked second in the world in the open weight category, finished second in the European Championship last year and since the beginning of the year has managed to win the Tel Aviv Grand Slam and the Tbilisi Grand Slam, but this medal in the World Championship is her greatest personal achievement.
The judoka quite easily passed the first stage, where she met 20-year-old Christy Rose Pretorius from Zimbabwe. After only two minutes, Pretorius received her third penalty, thus ensuring the 24-year-old Israeli's victory. In the next round, Hershko faced Chinese judoka Su Shin, and she defeated her, moving on to the final eight.
In the quarterfinals, she fought Akira Sona from Japan. Two and a half minutes into the fight, the Japanese athlete tied Hershko to the mat, who gave her the ticket to the quarterfinals and sent Raz Hershko to the consolation house, which still allowed her to win a bronze medal at the very least.
Facing Hershko was Kaira Sait from Turkey, and the two had a close match, as they had accumulated two points each, but Hershko squeezed the third point and qualified for the battle for the bronze.
In the battle for the medal, she faced Chinese judoka Xian Chu, whom Hershko had defeated in their three past confrontations. The story was the same this time as well when the Israeli took an early lead and did not give her opponent a chance to equalize. Hershko dominated the battle and celebrated at the end another great achievement that made her a candidate for a medal at the Paris Olympics next year as well.