It was a proud day for Israel at the Olympics yesterday as judoka Yarden Gerbi won a bronze medal in the under-63-kilograms (roughly 139 pounds) category. The win was momentous for several reasons: It was the first Israeli win at the 2016 Games, it the first Israeli Olympic medal since 2008, Yarden is now just the seventh Israeli athlete to win a medal, and she’s only the second woman to do so.
The celebration was immediate and emotional. The Times of Israel reports.
She promptly received a call from President Reuven Rivlin, who called her a “champion” and said that “today, you are our hero.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “Yarden, you did it. We’re all proud of you.”
An emotional Gerbi told the media after her victory: “I’m here to win, to give my heart and soul, and I still can’t believe it. Someone wake me up, I can’t believe it.
“My dream has come true. They say Israelis don’t have the character (to succeed in sports on the world stage but we do have the character. I gave my life. It paid off. Whoever says Israelis can’t succeed is wrong. It does happen. It does happen.”
She also said she was “very proud” to see the Israeli flag raised in Rio over her win.