Israelis had already resigned themselves to a disappointing medal-less showing in judo at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. But then on the final day of competition on Saturday we were pleasantly surprised when our judokas brought home the bronze in the first ever Olympic judo team competition.
Even one Olympic medal is often enough to satisfy Israel. And our teenage female Taekwondo fighter already achieved that on the second day of the games. But since our highest hopes were on our world championship-caliber judokas, expectations of more medals were particularly high this year. But anything can happen in judo, a brief moment of distraction can decide a fight. So in the end none of our fighters medaled in the individual competitions. And then the Israeli judo team under coach Oren Smadja, who won a bronze medal himself 29 years ago, reached the battle for bronze against a strong team from Russia.
They didn’t want to miss this last chance for a medal. The Israelis won a total of four individual fights and surprisingly defeated the Russians with a 4-1 victory. The joy was overwhelming. All day long, the Israeli media reported on our second Olympic medal in these games.
And now, of course, we’ve got an appetite for more. We’re paying particular attention to our rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram. And this afternoon, jumper Hanna Knjasjewa-Minenko is in the final, which makes her the most successful athlete in Israel. And then there’s the rhythmic gymnast Artem Dolgopyat and the Israeli baseball team, who are considered medal hopes for Israel.