Israel has won its second bronze medal at the European Judo Championships in Hungary. After Tommy Arshansky picked up a bronze medal on Thursday, Yarden Gerbi overcame the disappointment of losing in the quarterfinal of the up to 63 kilogram category on Friday to win twice in the repechage and also pick up a bronze.
The 24-year-old Netanya native was given a bye into the second round of the competition, where she easily defeated Valentina Giorgis of Italy. She came up against much stiffer competition in the quarterfinal, however, where she was beaten by Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia. Gerbi then went into the repechage, where victory over local girl Szabina Gercsak ¬ thanks to a waza-ari and a yuko ¬ gave her a chance to face Edwige Gwend of Italy for the bronze medal.
Gerbi was on top for the entire 4-minute, 21-second bout, eventually winning with a hugely impressive ippon.
Writing on her Facebook page after the medal ceremony, Gerbi admitted that her performances had not been wonderful. "It wasn't such a good day, but I'm so happy that I got overcame it all and I made it," she wrote. "To take a medal when you are not at your best is a challenge. I couldn't have done it without my coach Shani Hershko. This was my third Europeans; I was fifth in my first one, second last year and now I'm third. I think this is a good result.
According to Hershko, Gerbi's success in Hungary "proves that she belongs to the elite of European judo. I am proud of her and the entire Israeli delegation, which has come on in leaps and bounds since London."
Among those congratulating Gerbi on winning a medal was MK Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid) ¬ a former judoka who won silver medals at the 2004 and 2005 European Championships.
"For the second day in row," he said, "an Israel judoka has finished on the podium, proving that judo is the sport in which Israel has the greatest depth of talent among both women and men. I have been following Yarden's career for years and I delighted at this prestigious medal she has won."
The president of the Israel Olympic Committee, Igal Carmi, also sent Gerbi a congratulatory message. "Yarden, you are an outstanding example of willpower and mental strength," Carmi wrote. "The fact that you did not manage to get a ticket to London spurred you on and motivated you to continue in judo and to do everything you can to realize your personal dream, to participate in the Olympic Games. You are emerging as a super athlete, and your success at the European Championships today explains how ambitious you are and how much you believe in yourself."
Gerbi will receive a special grant of NIS 25,000 from the IOC, the Sports Administration and the Betting Council. Hershko will receive half that amount.
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