An Israeli athlete stood on the podium this week at the Olympic Games for the first time in eight years. Yarden Gerb, 27, defeated Japan’s Miku Tashiro Tuesday in the judo 63kg (139 pounds) bronze medal match. Israel’s first medal at the Rio Games is the country’s first since windsurfer Shahar Tzuberi, who won bronze in 2008. Gerbi is the second Israeli woman to win an Olympic medal; judoka Yael Arad, who won silver at the 1994 Barcelona Games, was the first.
A Netanya resident, Gerbi won a gold medal at the 2013 World Championships and a silver in 2014. She finished this year’s European Championships in fifth place. She is now ranked number 4 in her weight category in the world.
“You gave the whole country a wonderful feeling,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told her,” Times of Israel reported. President Reuven Rivlin told her “today, you are our hero.”
Knesset member Yoel Razvozov, chairman of the Knesset's Sports Lobby, called Gerbi’s medal “an historic moment for Yarden Gerbi and for all the people of Israel.”
Gerbi, Razvozov said, “proved to anyone who had any doubt that with a relatively small investment with relations to the state budget, Israel can be among the frontrunners in global sports. By developing athletes from the 'smaller' sports we can bring the country a lot more respect.”