The Israeli delegation to the European Judo Championship in Kazan, Russia, experienced some surprises throughout the competition. While little-known judoka Timna Nelson Levy won a bronze medal at her debut performance in the contest, all of Israel's top fighters toppled one after the other, not making it to the podium.
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The delegation was set to end the competition on a sour note, but on Saturday Israel's last – and at over 100 kilograms (about 220 pounds), heaviest – fighter, Ori Sasson, took to the mat. Sasson made headlines when he received the silver medal in last year's contest, and the past year has been the most formative one in his career.
Saturday's fight wasn’t an easy one for Sasson, as he encountered Frenchman Teddy Riner – a winner, among other things, of seven world championships, four European championships and a gold medal at the Olympics. For almost five minutes, Sasson sought contact with his rival, and even challenged him with two strong entries. In the last seconds, however, Riner caught Sasson in a joint lock, forcing him to surrender.
This was Sasson's second time as a European silver-medal holder, and he has garnered 240 ranking points in the race to be part of the world's top eight, which would guarantee him an easier drawing at the Olympics.