Ze'evi wins gold at European Judo Championships

35-year-old Israeli ensures spot in 2012 Olympics by taking fourth European gold in his career.

Arik Zeevi (photo credit: Reuters)
Arik Zeevi
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israeli Arik Ze'evi on Sunday won the gold medal at the 2012 European Judo Championships, defeating Georgia's Levan Jorjoliani in the final of the under-100-kilogram competition at the Traktor Arena in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
The medal was Ze'evi's fourth gold and ninth overall in the European Championships during his career. The Israeli had not won a gold medal at the competition since 2004 and at the age of 35, he became the competition's oldest champion in history.
Ze'evi ensured his spot at the 2012 London Olympics with the victory. He is now ranked eighth in the world judo rankings.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres congratulated Ze'evi on Saturday evening.
"We are all very excited. You brought us respect and hope," the prime minister told the judo champion.
Peres sent a message to the sportsman, in which he wrote that he is "full of admiration and appreciation for this wonderful achievement."
Ze’evi won a bronze medal at the 2004 Games in Athens and feels that he has a real shot at scaling the podium once more in London.
“It is slightly pretentious to talk about winning an Olympic medal at this stage,” Ze’evi said after winning a gold medal at the Grand Slam event in Moscow in May. “But currently I’m at a level that could see me take a medal.” 
Allon Sinai contributed to this report.