Israeli Judo athlete loses two fights for medal

Sagi Muki had reached semi-Finals, but loses fight to reach gold-medal round, and then misses out on bronze.

Shai Landesman,

Sagi Muki (in white)
Sagi Muki (in white)
Photo: Reuters

The first glimpse of Israeli success at the Rio Olympics ended in disappointment Monday night.

Sagi Muki had reached the semi-Finals of the under 73 kg Judo competition after winning three fights earlier in the day, overcoming a nagging back injury and showcasing some highly entertaining Judo along the way, but then ran into Rustam Orujov of Azerbaijan.

Orujov is the defending European champion, and he overcame Muki in a tight, tactical battle, putting the Israeli Judoka on the defensive throughout the match.

The loss meant that Muki's (and the Israeli delegation's) dream of gold was over, but a win in the 3rd place fight would still have earned him a bronze, which would have been Israel's first Olympic medal since 2008.

Alas, it was not to be, as Muki was soundly defeated by Georgian Lasha Shavdatuashvili, who had made the step up after winning the gold in a lower weight class at the 2012 London Olympics.

Shavdatuashvili threw Muki down onto the mat clean on his back with some minutes left on the clock, ending the fight with a victory, and a bronze medal, for the Georgian. Muki lay on his back for several seconds afterwards, exhausted after a courageous performance, and dejected at the final result.

Despite the eventual bitter disappointment, Muki's overall excellent showing is sure to inspire the Israeli delegation to Rio with confidence for the way forward, after the first few days of the Olympics yielded only dismal performances.