Israeli contestant Elizabeth Kovalev emerged victorious at the World Youth and Junior Sambo Championships held in Thessaloniki, Greece this Saturday.
Kovalev, 17, competed in the 72 kg division. She hails from the Powerful Athlete Club in Rishon Lezion.
The global competition was fierce, as Kovalev had to defeat France’s Leroy Clara, Greece’s Malina Canopolo, Ukraine’s Shimko Yana, and Russia’s Anastasia Konopleva in the gold medal match.
The final bout was particularly exhilarating, as Russia led 1-0 throughout and seemed poised to take gold until Kovalev surprisingly dropped her with just two seconds left, managing to score 2 points and win 1st place and the gold medal.
"We are very pleased with the achievement and our hearts are filled with pride to see Elizabeth standing on the podium,” Pavel Musin, coach and professional director of the Israeli Sambo Association, said. “Israel is already considered a leading country in Sambo, and we will continue to bring more achievements and respect to the country with our wonderful athletes and team."
Sambo, a Russian-Soviet martial art developed in the 1920s, has gained popularity in Israel. It is similar in style to Judo, a sport Israeli athletes have become widely known for.
"Israeli Sambo continues to develop and bring impressive achievements, and we are especially proud of the impressive achievement and demonstration of Elizabeth's professional abilities at the World Championships,” said Arik Kaplan, president of the Ayelet Association of non-Olympic sports. “We thank the team that accompanies the delegation and we look forward to further success.”