In his first competition since returning from an injury that had sidelined him for months, Israeli judoka Sagi Muki on Tuesday won the bronze medal in the prestigious World Judo Masters Tournament in Doha, Qatar.
Muki, who competes in the under-81-kilogram category, started his day well but lost his quarterfinal match. In the repechage against Austrian Shamil Borchashvili he won on penalties and got a chance to compete for the bronze against Korean Sungho Lee.
Muki opened aggressively in the battle for the medal and tried to get into the exercises, but the Korean evaded him time after time. After about a minute and a half, Lee suddenly started to attack, and the match became more balanced, moving into the golden score period with Muki carrying two penalties and Lee only one.
Within 20 seconds Muki sprung into action, threw the Korean on his side, but also fell on his back afterward. The Korean started to celebrate his win, but an examination of the video footage gave Muki a wazari score, because the Korean’s back hit the mat before he managed his counterattack. Muki emerged with the bronze.
During his first two matches of the day Muki looked very good, first triumphing over Russian Aslan Lappinagov during the regular match time, and afterward Italian Christian Parlati in a wazari during the golden score. In the quarterfinal he faced the excellent Frank De Wit from the Netherlands, whom he had beaten several times in the past, but this time he was defeated with a minute left to the match.
Muki won against Borchashvili on penalties during the regular match time. The Austrian had earlier defeated Saeid Mollaei, the Iranian who was forced to deliberately lose a match in the most recent World Championships so as to avoid competing against the Israeli judoka. Mollaei has since received Mongolian citizenship.
In the under-73-kilogram category, Tohar Butbul defeated Georgian Lasha Shavdatuashvili in the first round, but lost the second round to Romanian Victor Sterpu. On the women’s side, Gili Sharir (under-63-kilogram category) was ousted in the first round.
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Muki won the 2019 World Championship, defeating Belgium’s Matthias Casse. In 2018, Israel’s national anthem “Hatikva” was played for the first time in Abu Dhabi after Muki won a gold medal there at the Judo Federation’s Grand Slam competition.