Medal hopes for Israeli Judokas

Jul 3, 2021 | Jews in Sports

In addition to Sagi Muki, Israel has a number of Judokas that will be competing in the Tokyo Games who will have a legitimate chance to capture a medal and perhaps even take the top spot on the podium.

On the men’s side Ori Sasson who won a bronze medal at the Rio de Janeiro Games will be trying to get back on track in the +100KG category after struggling since the onset of the pandemic. The Jerusalem born Sasson took the Gold Medal at the 2020 Tel Aviv Grand Prix but has had trouble returning to form over the past year. However, the 30-year old is aware that these may be his last games and will be sure to put on the best performance possible to go out with a bang.

One Israeli Judoka who hasn’t been slowed down by COBID-19 is Peter Paltchik who is considered to have an excellent chance of winning a medal and will compete in the -100KG category. Paltchik who was born in the Ukraine, immigrated to Israel with his family at the age of 9 months old and settled in Rishon Le’Zion. The 29-year old has been taking one medal after the next over the past couple of years, capturing three gold medals in 2020 while winning a silver and bronze just ahead of the Olympics.

Other men’s hopefuls include Tohar Butbul, Baruch Smailov and Li Kochman who have all had success at tournaments throughout the world over the past few years and will look to also ascend the podium in Tokyo.

Timna Nelson-Levy will lead the women’s Judokas after having won a gold medal at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam earlier in the year. The 26-year old, who will be making her Olympic debut in Japan will compete in the -57KG category. Nelson-Levy is the daughter of Americans who immigrated to the Holy Land back in the mid-1980’s where they settled in the Kiryat HaYovel neighborhood of Jerusalem and has devoted herself to the sport and country she loves.

Shira Rishony and Gili Cohen will also be competing and have won medals at various tournaments this past year. Both are 30-years old and will each be making their second Olympic appearances in the -48KG and -52KG categories respectively.

Gili Sharir, Inbal Lanir and Raz Hershko will all be making their Olympic debuts having had much success at the youth levels of the sport. Although for the trio this will be a learning experience, Hershko will come into the Games after having captured a gold medal this year at the Antalya Grand Slam.

The Tokyo Olympics will also host the first Judo team event in which Israel’s men’s and women’s teams will participate.

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