Decorated Judoka Alice Schlesinger Who Competed for Israel, Then Britain, Retires

32-year-old Schlesinger, who represented Israel until a dispute with the national judo association, ends her career with one World Championship and four European championship medals

Itamar Katzir
Itamar Katzir
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Alice Schlesinger at the Tel Aviv Grand Prix, January 2019.
Alice Schlesinger at the Tel Aviv Grand Prix, January 2019.Credit: Nir Keidar
Itamar Katzir
Itamar Katzir

Alice Schlesinger, a judoka who won four medals for Israel before switching to represent Great Britain, announced her retirement from the sport at age 32 on Tuesday.

Schlesinger, who competed in the under 63 kg. (139 lb.) weight class and won a bronze medal in the 2009 World Championship, began competing for Great Britain in 2014, after a dispute with the Israel Judo Association. She retired with one World Championship medal and four European championship medals, three from the period when she represented Israel.

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Schlesinger was considered one of Israel’s most outstanding judokas at the end of the first decade of the millennium and the beginning of the past decade, but at the London Olympic Games in 2012 she lost in the quarter finals and was later eliminated in the consolation round.

In the next Olympic campaign she competed against Yarden Gerbi for the only ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and became embroiled in a conflict with the head of the Israel Judo Association Moshe Fonti. She said that Fonti preferred that Gerbi – the personal protegee of national team coach Shani Hershko – represent Israel in the under-63 kg. class, and demanded that Schlesinger compete in the under-70 kg. class. When she refused, she says, he harassed her.

In 2013, after her request to represent Great Britain (thanks to citizenship through her British-born mother) and the quarrel with Fonti, Schlesinger participated in only one competition. In order to maintain fitness, she began competing at sambo, and was named world champion in the under-64 kg class. She started to represent Great Britain in 2014, winning the Baku Grand Slam twice in a row (2016 and 2017), and the silver medal at the European Games (2019).