Yarden Gerbi makes history with Judo gold

It took the 24-year-old just 43 seconds to become the first Israeli woman to win Judo World Championships.

Judoka Yarden Gerbi and her coach Shani Hershko celebrate her gold medal win at the World Championships.

Judoka Yarden Gerbi and her coach Shani Hershko celebrate her gold medal win at the World Championships.

Israeli sport fans are all smiles as one of the country’s most promising athletes took the gold medal at the Judo World Championships. Yarden Gerbi, the world number one in the U63 kilogram category, defeated France’s European champion Clarisse Agbegnenou in just 43 seconds in Rio De Janeiro for the win.

“I’m so happy that it really ended this way,” said the Netanya resident. “I had a great competition. Nothing can be better than this.”

Gerbi won all five of her fights by ippon, the highest score a fighter can achieve and the judo equivalent of a knockout. Her final ippon was so strong that it left Agbegnenou with a dislocated her shoulder.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Gerbi to congratulate her and released a congratulatory statement describing her medal as a “fantastic achievement” and praising her “swift, elegant” victory in the finals bout.

Olympic Committee of Israel president Igal Carmi called Gerbi’s win “historical” and said he hopes she’ll “continue to reap the results of her hard work and fulfill her dream of representing Israel at the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.”

Gerbi – who does not have a sponsor – will receive a $27,700 grant from the Olympic Committee of Israel and the Sports Betting Council.

Judo holds a special place in Israel’s sports pantheon – with the country’s judokas repeatedly winning top international competitions. Gerbi is the fifth Israeli to win a medal in the world championships, after Yael Arad, Oren Smadja, Arik Zeevi and Alice Schlesinger. But she is the first to win gold.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. She has jumped out of a plane, ducked rockets and been attacked by a baboon all in the name of a good story. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.