Israeli Mixed Judo Team Wins Bronze, Defeating Russia 4-1 at Tokyo Olympics

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The Israeli judo team celebrating their bronze medal at Tokyo Olympics, today.
The Israeli judo team celebrating their bronze medal at Tokyo Olympics, today. Credit: JACK GUEZ / AFP

The Israeli mixed judo team won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Saturday, after defeating Russia 4-1 in the consolation bracket.

This is Israel's second Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020 after Taekwondo fighter Avishag Semberg also won a bronze medal last week.

Israeli judokas Timna Nelson-Levy, Ori Sasson, Li Kochman, Gili Sharir, Tohar Butbul, Peter Paltchik, Sagi Muki, and Raz Hershko gave an impressive performance and snatched Israel's 11th Olympic medal overall. This is Israel's first team medal. 

Earlier, the Israeli team won 4-2 against Brazil and moved to the consolation bracket to compete against Russia.

Israel lost 4-3 to France in the quarter-finals, which prevented the mixed team from qualifying for the semi-finals.

In 2004, Arik Zeevi won the bronze at the Athens Olympics — the pinnacle of a five-year spree in which he won three golds and a silver at the European Judo Championships. The following year, Israel took the team gold in that tournament. And in 2012, Zeevi recaptured the gold at age 35.  

Four years later, at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Israel won two bronzes in judo, bringing the country’s total of Olympic medals to nine — four in judo. In 2018, the European Championships were held in Tel Aviv. 

In 1992, judokas Yael Arad and Oren Smadja won silver and bronze medals, respectively, at the women’s and men’s competitions in the Barcelona Olympics, becoming the first Israeli athletes to bring home an Olympic medal for that country. Their achievements and an infusion of judo masters from the Soviet Union like Romanitsky, spurred a national love affair with the sport, which has led to additional accomplishments and turned Israel into a power in the field in both men’s and women’s competitions.

At the 2012 Olympics in London, Ahmad Awad, a judoka from Egypt, was widely thought to have feigned an injury to avoid a fight with Israel’s Tal Flicker. In 2015, a Palestinian judoka declined a match with another Israeli, and an Egyptian one, Ramadan Darwish, declined to shake Zeevi’s hand after losing to the Israeli. The same Egyptian also refused to shake hands in 2012.

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