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Israeli Rhythmic Gymnast Linoy Ashram Snags Gold Medal at Tokyo Olympics

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Linoy Ashram performing the ball routine at Tokyo Olympics, today.
Linoy Ashram performing the ball routine at Tokyo Olympics, today. Credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP
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Tokyo 2020 live updates

Israel goes to the Olympics with high hopes, American ringers and no Arabs. LISTEN

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With the 15th day of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics underway, this live blog follows the Israeli wins, losses and surprises.

Itamar Katzir

Israel finishes sixth in team rhythmic gymnastics final

After Israeli Linoy Ashram's historic achievement in the all-around rhythmic gymnastics final on Saturday, Israel's rhythmic gymnastics team looked to achieve similar success in the all-around team final, on Sunday.

 The team opened the final with a five-ball routine and received a score of 44.1, which is a tenth of a point better than their score during the preliminary round. They appealed to the judges but the score remained the same. At this point, Israel ranked fifth out of eight teams in the finals.

During their last routine, with hoops and clubs, the team received a score of 39.750, which was lower than the score they had received in the preliminaries. At the end of the competition, the team finished in sixth place. This matches the Israeli record for the third time, as Israel finished in sixth in Beijing in 2008 and Rio in 2016.

The gymnasts were the last remaining Israeli athletes that had still to compete in the Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics will end on Sunday.

Itamar Katzir

Israeli marathoner achieves historic record of 13th place finish

Israeli marathon champion Marhu Teferi achieved a historic feat for Israel Sunday, finishing 13th in the men's marathon, running it in 2:13:02.

Previously, Haile Satayin had held the record for finishing in 20th place at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Israel's Girma Amara finished in 28th place with a time of 2:16:17 and Aimro Almiya came in 37th place in 2:17:17.

Thloani Malacca, an Eritrean refugee who has lived in Israel since he was 13 years old and who trains at the Hadassah Neurim Youth Village, on the seacoast north of Netanya, came in 16th place as a member of the Olympic Refugee Team. He finished in 2:14:02, achieving a personal best and one of the record achievements of the International Olympic Committee's Refugee Team.

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya won the gold medal, with a time of 2:08:38. Eighty seconds later, Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands nabbed the silver medal, with a time of 2:09:58, and Bashir Abdi of Belgium took bronze in 2:10:00.

After Israel nabs the gold, Russia fumes

Israel's Linoy Ashram made history on Saturday not as only the first Israeli to win an Olympic gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics, but also as the first non-Russian gymnast to achieve first place in the sport in two decades – and Russia isn't happy about it.

Russia, it seems, is having a hard time accepting the loss – and the end of their hegemony over rhythmic gymnastics. The official Twitter account of the Russian Olympic Committee posted photos of gymnast Dina Averina, who took home the silver, receiving her scores, with the caption: "The pictures speak for themselves, the whole world has seen this injustice."

Russian lawmaker Vitaly Milonov took out his anger on Ashram: "It was embarrassing to watch her," he said of the 2020 European all-around champion. "This isn't supposed to be an athletics competition – it's rhythmic gymnastics. She should have refused the medal, because what happened there was simply unjust."

Read the full article here.

Russia's Dina Averina reacts at the end of the individual all-around final of the Rhythmic Gymnastics event during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics center in Tokyo, Saturday.Credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE - AFP
Itamar Katzir

Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram snags gold medal at Tokyo Olympics

Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram has won a gold medal after completing all four routines at Saturday's final.

Ashram, 22, scored 27.550 in the hoop routine and 28.300 and 28.650 in the ball and clubs disciplines, respectively.

Ashram displayed a strong performance throughout the contest, but dropped her ribbon in the final routine, ultimately scoring 23.000, which was enough to keep her at the top of the board and beat her strongest rivals Dina and Arina Averina from Russia.

Click here to read the full article.

Israeli rhythmic gymnasts Linoy Ashram during her hoop routine at the final, today. Credit: MIKE BLAKE / REUTERS
Nicol Zelikman performing her hoop routine, today.Credit: ANTONIN THUILLIER / AFP
Itamar Katzir

Israel's rhythmic gymnastics team qualifies for final

Israel's rhythmic gymnastics team started strong and qualified for the final after scoring 84.65 in their routine with the ball and clubs.

The Israeli team has now a chance at an Olympic medal at Sunday's final. The team will perform again the routine with the ball and clubs.

Itamar Katzir

Israeli runner quits marathon, loses shot at medal

It was closer than ever, but the hope for an Olympic medal for Israel in the marathon has vanished.

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter was one of the leading runners throughout the whole race, but with only four kilometers left, while she was in third place, she suddenly stopped.

She let American Molly Seidel pass her, and join Kenyans Brigid Kosgei and Peres Jepchirchir up ahead.

The race that took place under especially difficult conditions due to the heat and humidity.

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Linoy Ashram qualifies for rhythmic gymnastics final

Twenty-two-year-old Israeli athlete Linoy Ashram is one step closer to the Olympic finals in rhythmic gymnastics. Ashram started off with a low score (23.500 points) in her first round after her hoop fell, but scored 28.250 points in her routine with the ball.

The other Israeli gymnast, 20-year-old Nicol Zelikman, was also well on her way to securing a place in the finals which are held on Saturday, scoring 24.350 points in the hoop round, and 25.500 with the ball.

If Ashram and Zelikman remain among the top 10 they will qualify for the finals.

Linoy Ashram doing her clubs routine, earlier today in TokyoCredit: Israeli Olympic Committee
Itamar Katzir

Israel scores highest ever swimming finish, seconds away from medal

Matan Roditi achieved a historic feat of a fourth place finish for Israel in marathon swimming on Thursday, falling just 23 seconds short of a bronze medal.

The 22-year-old's finish of 1:49:24.9 hours in the men's 10 kilometers race was a record position for Israel in Olympic swimming.

His Italian competitor, Gregorio Paltrinieri, took the bronze medal with 1:49:01.1 hours.

The world champion, the German Florian Wellbrock, won the gold medal, with a time of 1:48:33.7 hours, with the Hungarian Kristof Rasovsky finishing in second place.

Swimmer Matan RoditiCredit: Guy Yehieli

Israel loses to Dominican Republic in Olympic baseball

Former Toronto Blue Jay Jose Bautista knocked in Yefri Perez to complete a ninth-inning rally as the Dominican Republic defeated Israel 7-6 in Olympic baseball knockout stage action on Tuesday.

The defeat eliminates Israel from the competition, leaving the Blue and White to finish the tournament in fifth place, just ahead of Mexico. The Dominican Republic stays in the hunt for a medal.

Israel had taken the lead in the top of the eighth inning of the back-and-forth battle to go up 6-5 after Danny Valencia clobbered a two-run homer that also scored Ian Kinsler.

Johan Mieses, an outfielder in the Boston Red Sox organization, opened the bottom of the ninth for the Dominicans with a home run of his own.  Veteran MLB outfielder Melky Cabrera followed with a single.  Perez then came in as a pinch runner. Roldani Baldwin then sacrificed Perez to second. Israel's pitcher Zack Weiss walked Guzman intentionally before being pulled for closer David Sharabi.

Gustavo Nunez grounded into a fielder's choice that put Perez on third, setting up Bautista for the winning at-bat.

Nick Rickles of Israel out at home base against Roldani Baldwin of the Dominican RepublicCredit: JORGE SILVA / REUTERS
Itamar Katzir

Israeli duo come in 16th on first day of artistic swimming duet prelims

Artistic swimmers Eden Belcher and Shelly Bobricki came in 16th on first of two days of duet preliminaries with a score of 84.63333 in the free routine.

The two will advance to the second day of prelims on Tuesday with a technical routine, and if they achieve a ranking of 12 or higher, they will advance to the finals on Wednesday. 

Although the two are currently just 3.4 points shy from 12th place, they do not anticipate that they will qualify for finals. They are, however, quite pleased with their score. 

Israel's Teferi comes in 10th in Women's 5000m

Israeli runner Selamawit Bayoulgn Teferi came in 10th in the Women's 5000 meters track final. The Netherlands' Sifan Hassan came in first, with Kenyan Helen Obiri second and Ethiopian Gudaf Tesgay third.

South Korea defeats Israel in baseball 11 to 1

Israel's baseball team lost to South Korea (11:1), earning the latter a spot in the semi-final.

While this is Israel's third loss in the tournament, the team is still in the running for a medal. Tomorrow's game against the Dominican Republic will be the team's do-or-die moment, constituting their last chance to remain in the competition.

>> Click here to read the full report 

Uzi Dann

Israeli triple-jump athlete finishes sixth at Tokyo Games final

Israeli athlete Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko finished sixth in the triple jump final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Knyazyeva-Minenko set her best result this year, 14.60 meters, in her second jump in the final.

Knyazyeva-Minenko made it to the final after jumping 14.36 meters in the qualification round.

Israel's Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko competes in triple jump

Israeli athlete Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko is competing in the triple jump final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Knyazyeva-Minenko made it to the finals after jumping 14.36 meters in the qualifier. Her results were not enough to take her straight to the final, but because she finished in eighth place, she went on to the next stage.

This is Knyazyeva-Minenko's third Olympic final in the triple jump. In London in 2012, where she represented Ukraine, she reached fourth place with a 14.56 meter jump. Four years later, in Rio de Janeiro, she represented Israel and finished in fifth place, but with a better result than in London, with 14.68.

Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko during the triple jump at the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers.Credit: DYLAN MARTINEZ/רויטרס

Israeli baseball team scores historic win against Mexico

The Israeli Olympic baseball team defeated Mexico 12-5 in a historic win on Sunday morning.

This was the team's third game and first win in the Tokyo Olympics. Thanks to this win, the Israeli team will remain in the games and play at least two more times.

Click here to read the full article

Uzi Dann

Israel's swim relay team finishes last in final

Israel's mixed gender relay team finished in the eighth and last place in the 4X100 relay final with a time of 3:44.77 minutes. Britain set a world record at 3:37.58 minutes, beating out China and Australia. The U.S. team finished fifth.

Itamar Katzir

Israeli Shanny eliminated from archery competition in round of 32

Israeli Itay Shanny was eliminated Saturday in the round of 32 of the olympic archery competition, despite having come back from deficits of 4:0 and 5:1. The archer faced off against Tang Chih-Chun of Taiwan, a medalist who had finished the preliminary rounds in 12 place with 628 points.

During the first round, the two were tied at 17 after each had taken two shots out of three, but Chih-Chun hit a bullseye giving him 10 points, while Shanny could only manage an eight.

In the second round Chih-Chun hit two bullseyes and one nine, while Shanny could only manage two eights and a seven, which put him at a 4:0 deficit, one point from defeat.

 In the third round, Shanny was able to make a bit of a recovery by shooting a triple of nines, thereby giving him 27 points and cutting Chih-Chun's lead to 4:2, but the Taiwanese managed another bullseye, thus tying the score and expanding his lead to 5:1.

The fourth round found Shanny besting his opponent. The Taiwanese lead went down to 5:3, with Shanny needing to win in the following round to tie the match up at 5:5. Shanny then had his best round yet, with two nines and a bullseye, thereby forcing a tie-breaker.

Despite the heroic comeback efforts, Shanny's opponent hit a bullseye, while the Israeli just got a nine which eliminated him from the competition after a dramatic match.

Israel loses 8-1 to the U.S. baseball team

Israel's Olympic baseball team lost 8-1 to the United States in its second game on Friday.

Israel will continue on to the knockout stage, where it will face off against the team that finishes third in the other group. If the Israeli team wins, it still has a chance to win a medal.

The Israeli team started strong, with two hits by Ty Kelly and Danny Valencia that put two runners on the bases with two outs, before the catcher, Ryan Lavarnway, went to bat. Lavarnway, who hit two home runs in the game against South Korea on Thursday, struck out; the first inning ended 0-0.

The ice broke when Eddie Alvarez got to second base, which led to the American team leading by one point. As in Israel's game with South Korea, the Israeli team lost its lead due to two straight home runs by the opposing team. The troubles continued with Tyler Austin's home run, putting the United States in a 3-0 lead.

Israel scored a point in the fourth inning due to one of Valencia's home runs; the player is one of the most experienced and decorated players on the Israeli team. Israel continued its momentum with two more hits from Lavarnway and Nick Rickles, which made catching up to the U.S. team possible. But two outs helped the American team recover and keep their lead. The U.S. team scored two more runs in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings secured a U.S. victory.

Read the full report here. 

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U.S. leads 6-1 in baseball over Israel

At the top of the seventh inning, the U.S. baseball team is beating Israel 6-1.

Israel's Olympics baseball team lost to South Korea in a 6-5 opening round game that saw the country's first-ever home runs at the Games on Thursday.

South Korea will face off with the U.S. team on Saturday.

Amnon Harari

Israeli athlete qualifies for Olympic final in triple jump for 3rd time in a row

Israeli triple and long jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko qualified for the Olympic final for the third time in a row, in the triple jump competition.

She made three successful jumps at 14.27, 14.35 and 14.36 meters.

Although she did not meet the initial criteria for qualifying for the final, Knyazyeva-Minenko finished in eighth place overall in the competition, guaranteeing her a spot in the final.

Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko competing in the women's triple jump in Tokyo on Friday.Credit: Andrej Isakovic / AFP
Amnon Harari

Israeli runner breaks Israeli record, qualifies for Olympic final

Israeli runner Selamawit Teferi qualified on Friday for the women's 5,000m final, breaking the Israeli record. Teferi finished in 8th place in her first qualifying round on Friday at 14:53.43 minutes, 15 seconds better than the previous Israeli record, which she also set.

She is the first Israeli athlete to compete in an Olympic final for track since Esther Roth-Shahamorov competed in the 100-meter hurdles final at in Montreal in 1976.

Selamawit Teferi during the women's 5,000m race on Friday.Credit: Aleksandra Szmigiel / Reuters
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U.S. is leading Israel 3-0 in baseball game

The score of the Israel-U.S. baseball game is currently 3-0 with the Americans leading at the bottom of the third inning.

Israel's Olympics baseball team lost to South Korea in a 6-5 opening round game that saw the country's first-ever home runs at the Games on Thursday.

South Korea will face off with the U.S. team on Saturday.

Israel loses to South Korea in 6-5 baseball game

Israel's Olympics basebell team lost to South Korea in a 6-5 opening round game that saw the country's first-ever home runs at the Games.

Israel will play against the U.S. team on Friday, and South Korea will face off with the U.S. team on Saturday. Israel's baseball team is ranked 24th in the world. The other five teams competing – Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the United States and the Dominican Republic – all rank among the world’s top 10.

Israel's mixed medley swim team qualifies for final

Israel's mixed medley swim team has qualified for the final after finishing fifth in Thursday's heat and eighth overall. The team consists of Anastasia Gorbenko, Andi Murez, Itay Goldfaden, Gal Cohen Groumi.

The team set a new Israeli record, finishing with a time of 3:43.94 seconds and qualifying it for the Olympics' first-ever mixed medley relay final.

Israel gets first Olympic home runs, up 4-2 against South Korea

Israel's four-time all star Ian Kinsler crushes a 2-run home run to left field, putting the national baseball team on the board for the first time in its Olympic history.

After the game was tied at 2-2, Israel hit another 2-run shot to center field, bringing the score to 4-2.

To say the Israeli team is not favored to win gold would be an understatement. The other five teams competing – Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the United States and the Dominican Republic – all rank among the world’s top 10. Israel ranks 24th.

“On paper, everyone would call us the underdog – and that’s fine,” says Mitch Glasser, an outfielder on the team. “We’re used to being the underdog. But the beautiful thing is that this sport is baseball and in baseball, anything can happen in nine innings. It’s all about how teams come together – and it’s not always the team that looks the best on paper that wins.”

Read our full story on the underdog team's path to Tokyo

Itamar Katzir

Israeli judoka loses chance at bronze medal

Israeli judoka Peter Paltchik was defeated by Canada's Shady El Nahas in his match on Thursday, losing his chance to advance to win the bronze medal.

Otgonbaatar Lkhagvasuren of Mongolia in action against Peter Paltchik of Israel, today.Credit: ANNEGRET HILSE/ REUTERS
Itamar Katzir

Israeli windsurfer loses chance at medal

Israeli windsurfer Katy Spychakov lost her chance of winning a medal in the Tokyo Olympics, as she currently is in sixth place in the overall competition and at best could reach fourth. Spychakov had a successful day Thursday, finishing twice first and once third.

Read full article

Itamar Katzir

Israeli judoka loses match, will compete for bronze medal

Israeli judoka Peter Paltchik lost in the -100kg quarterfinals to Japan's Aaron Wolf on Thursday.

Paltchik will compete later on Thursday in a repechage fight for the bronze medal.

Wolf is the 2017 world champion and bronze medalist from the 2019 world championship.

Israeli judoka knocked out of the Olympic Games in Tokyo

Israeli judoka Inbar Lanir lost her fight in the elimination round of 16 on Thursday and was knocked out of the competition in Tokyo.

Lanir lost to the Brazilian Mayra Aguiar In the category of women's under 18 kg in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Uzi Dann

Israeli swimmer wins second ticket for Tokyo Games final

Israeli swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko proceeded to the Women's 200m individual medley final on Monday.

Gorbenko's 2:10.21 minutes was enough for her to finish fourth in the semis third heat, eventually granting her a ticket to the final.

The 17-year-old also moved on to the finals in the Women's 100m backstroke event after completing her heat in just 59.30 seconds breaking the Israeli record by 30 milliseconds.

Itamar Katzir

Israeli joduka Butbul losses chance for Olympic medal

Israeli joduka Tohar Butbul lost on Monday his repechage fight at the 2020 Tokyo Games, missing Israel's chance at a second Olympic medal.

The Israeli judoka lost to the Canadian Arthur Margelidon in the Men's under 73 kg event.

Earlier on Monday, he lost to South Korea's An Chang-rim in the quarterfinals, however, he got a second chance at a medal though a repechage fight.

Itamar Katzir

Judoka Nelson Levy loses repechage fight

Israeli joduka Timna Nelson Levy lost on Monday her repechage fight at the 2020 Tokyo Games, missing her chance at an Olympic medal.

Nelson Levy, who competes in the women's under 57 kg, lost to Slovenia's Kaja Kajzer with an ippon.

Earlier on Monday, she lost to Japan's Tsukasa Yoshida in the quarterfinals.

Itamar Katzir

Olympic medal still within reach after Israeli joduka loses quarterfinals

Israel’s Tohar Butbul quest for an Olympic bronze continues although the Israeli judoka lost his quaterfinals fight against South Korea's Changrim An.

In the Men's under 73 kg repechage round Butbul will meet the Canadian Arthur Margelidon hoping to win a second medal for Israel in the competition.

Butbul proceeded to the quarterfinals, earlier on Monday, after a Sudanese and Algerian competitors withdrew from event to avoid a potential battle against him.

Itamar Katzir

Swimmer breaks Israeli national record, carries on to finals at Tokyo Olympics

Swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko will be the first Israeli to compete in the Women's 100m backstroke finals in the Olympics.

The 17-year-old moved to the finals after completing her heat in just 59.30 seconds breaking the Israeli record by 30 milliseconds.

Amir Tito, Israel Swimming Association CEO, said that "everything is working as planned." Adding that officials in the association "aren't surprised," by Gorbenko's results.

Itamar Katzir

Judoka Tohar Butbul makes it to quarterfinal

Israel’s Tohar Butbul quest for an Olympic medal continues after the Israeli judoka won his round of 16 fight against Romenia's Victor Sterpu.

In the Men's under 73 kg quarterfinals, the Israeli athlete will meet South Korea's Changrim An. Butbul moved on to the quarterfinals after a Sudanese and Algerian competitors withdrew from event to avoid a potential battle against the Israeli. 

Itamar Katzir

Israeli joduka losses quarterfinals battle, still has chance for Olympic medal

Timna Nelson Levy of Israel reacts after winning in Tokyo, today.Credit: ANNEGRET HILSE/ REUTERS

Israeli joduka Timna Nelson Levy lost on Monday her quarterfinals fight at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Although, Nelson Levy, who competes in the women's under 57 kg, lost to Japan's Tsukasa Yoshida in the quarterfinals, the Israeli judoka will have a chance to win a bronze medal if she remains victorious in the next two fights.

Itamar Katzir

Israeli windsurfers Katy Spychakov and Yoav Cohen both end first day in fifth place

Katy Spychakov and Yoav Cohen finished the first day of the Tokyo Olympic windsurfing competition on Sunday, both in fifth place.

Spychakov performed well in her first competition, finishing third in her first surf, then finishing fifth her second surf, and finished ninth in her third surf. In the sport, the weakest surf is disregarded, and won't be counted toward the competitor's final score.

Cohen finished his first surf in 12th place, but improved, finishing sixth in his second surf. The results allowed him to stabilize his standing in fifth place at the end of the first day. Cohen will need to maintain his position in order to have the results from his first and weakest surf disregarded.

Katy Spychakov competing in the Tokyo Olympics windsurfingCredit: IVAN ALVARADO / REUTERS
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Israeli judoka Baruch Shmailov misses chance for bronze bid

Israeli Judoka Baruch Shmailov loses his chance to compete for a bronze medal in a fight against Brazilian athlete Daniel Cargnin.

Shmailov will finish in fifth place in the men's -66kg judo tournament in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Israel's Baruch Shmailov (white) competes with Brazil's Daniel Cargnin during their judo men's -66kg bronze medal B bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic GamesCredit: FRANCK FIFE / AFP
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Israeli judoka Shmailov in the running for the bronze

Israel's Baruch Shmailov defeated Slovenian Adrian Gomboc in an ippon – a decisive victory – on Sunday, meaning that he remains in the running for the bronze medal.

Slovenia's Adrian Gomboc (white) competes with Israel's Baruch Shmailov during their judo bout at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, today.Credit: JACK GUEZ - AFP
Itamar Katzir

Israeli judoka goes for bronze after losing quarter-final

Israeli judoka Baruch Shmailov lost the quarter-final on Sunday and will fall to the consolation round for a shot at the bronze medal. Shmailov, faced off against the Georgian Vazha Margvelashvili, ranked fourth in the world, in the men’s 66 kilogram category.

The two judokas opened strong, and a minute later the Georgian brought Smailov down after a series of complex moves. He managed to pin the Israeli to the mat for four seconds, but Shmailov extricated himself and remained in the competition. With a minute to go, Margvelashvili brought Shmailov down once more, and he lost the round.

On the way to the quarter-final, Shmailov defeated Mozambique’s Kevin Loforte in the first round. He was once again victorious in round 16, bringing down Nathan Katz from Australia. Now the Israeli judoka is two victories from the second bronze medal for Israel in Tokyo 2020. His first win was against the Slovenian Adrian Gomboc.

Earlier, Israeli judoka Gili Cohen was defeated in the second round of the tournament after Charline van Snick of Belgium, ranked seventh in the world, won a decisive victory. Cohen (women’s 52 kilogram) surrendered to a clamp by the Belgian at 1 minute 48 seconds. In the first round, Cohen decisively defeated Gulbadam Baburamatova from Turkmenistan, 11 seconds before the end of the round.

Itamar Katzir

Taekwondo fighter wins first medal for Israel

Israel's Avishag Semberg celebrates with her bronze medal on the podium after winning the taekwondo women's -49kg bronze medal in Tokyo Credit: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

“I told myself I wanted it more,” said Taekwondo fighter Avishag Semberg Saturday after becoming the first Israeli to win a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Semberg defeated the former European champion, Turkey's Rukiye Yildirim 27-22 in the women's -49 kg event, winning the bronze medal for Israel.

After being in the lead during most of the fight, Semberg fell behind in the middle of the decisive third round, but managed to retake the lead and ultimately win. "I knew I could give another kick and another kick and another kick, simply because I wanted it more,” Samberg said as she described what went through her mind in those moments.

JTA

Algerian judoka pulls out of games after refusing to fight Israeli

An Algerian judoka reportedly pulled out of the Olympics on Thursday after seeing his tournament draw, which would have pitted him against an Israeli opponent in the second round.

“We were not lucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision,” Fethi Nourine’s coach told Algerian media.

Nourine would have had to face Tohar Butbul in the under 73 kg division. He similarly pulled out of the 2019 World Championships in order to avoid Butbul, according to The Times of Israel.

Nourine is not the first athlete to intentionally evade an Israeli judoka. Iran’s judo federation has long forced its athletes to throw matches to avoid competing against Israelis. The International Judo Federation banned the Iranian team from international competition for a few days this spring over the policy but reinstated them on March 2.

At the 2016 Games in Rio, an Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands with Israeli Ori Sasson after losing to him. Sasson would go on to win a bronze medal in the over 100 kg group.

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Opening ceremony commemorates murder of Israeli athletes for first time

Israeli delegation at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremonyCredit: BEN STANSALL / AFP

The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday included an unprecedented commemoration and moment of silence for the Israeli athletes slain by Palestinian militant groups during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Eleven Israeli athletes were killed in September 1972, when Palestinian militants belonging to a group called Black September stormed the Olympic village. Two were killed on the spot, and nine died later in a gun battle between Palestinian gunmen and German sharpshooters.

>> Commemoration of Munich massacre is an Israeli victory at Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony

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