Yesterday saw an Israeli judoka win the Jewish state's first medal of the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Times of Israel reports that Yarden Gerbi's bronze is Israel's first medal since 2008 and only the second ever for an Israel woman:
Israeli judoka Yarden Gerbi overcame an early loss to win a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics on Tuesday, becoming the first Israeli athlete to win a medal at the 2016 games, and the first Israeli Olympic medalist since windsurfer Shahar Tzuberi took home the bronze in the 2008 games in Beijing.
Gerbi defeated Japan’s Miku Tashiru in the repechage to claim the third place spot in the under-63 kg competition.
Gerbi, 27, and the 2013 world champion in her class, thus became the seventh Israeli athlete in history to be honored on the Olympic podium. She was also only the second woman to do so — the first being judoka Yael Arad, Israel’s first-ever medal winner, who took home the silver in Barcelona 1992.
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.”