(JTA) – Yarden Gerbi became the first Israeli to medal at the Rio Olympics, bringing home a bronze in the women’s 63-kg judo competition.
Gerbi defeated Miku Tashiro of Japan on Tuesday for Israel’s first Olympic medal since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
“The medal is for all of Israel, for everyone who supported me and cheered me on,” Gerbi said after her victory, according to Haaretz. “I’m waiting for someone to wake me up. I gave my soul and it paid off. Whoever said you can’t succeed in Israel is wrong.”
Israel narrowly missed another medal in judo on Monday when Sagi Muki lost to Lasha Shavdatuashvili of Georgia in the bronze medal match.
Israel’s Or Sasson beat Cuba’s Alex Maxell Garcia Mendoza to win a bronze medal in the men’s over-100kg competition at the Rio Games on Friday.
Sasson and Mendoza fought a close tussle, with no decisive moves, with Sasson prevailing by dint of fewer penalties.
Sasson, who turns 26 on August 18, a two-time European silver medalist, had lost his semifinal fight to France’s Teddy Riner, the event’s outstanding performer, who went on to retain his gold medal.
The Israeli brushed off an unpleasant encounter with his defeated Egyptian opponent, Islam El-Shahaby in the first round, going on to win two more fights and claim his place in the semifinals against the legendary Riner.
El-Shahaby refused to shake hands with Sasson after his defeat, or even bow in mutual respect. The Egyptian was ordered back to the floor to bow, was booed by the crowd, and later said he was quitting judo.
Shahar Tzuberi had won the last medal for Israel – a bronze in sailing.