Israeli Judo master wins gold at world championships

Israeli judoka Sagi Muki, who competes in the under-81 kg class, has won gold at the Judo World Championships in Tokyo.

By World Israel News Staff

Sagi Muki won gold at the Judo World Championships on Wednesday in Tokyo, bringing Israel’s first gold medal to Israel from the prestigious competition, Walla! News reports.

Muki, who is the current European Champion, beat Beligian Casse Mattias in the final. Muki stood on the podium as Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah” played in the hall that will host the Olympics next summer, the report says. Muki has faced the Belgian Mattias before and holds the advantage in his matches where they’ve gone head-to-head, 5 victories to 1.

Muki decisively defeated six opponents in the under 81 kg category on the way to gold, including an Egyptian Abdelaal Muhammed, who refused to shake his hand.

Questions swirled around whether Iranian Mollai Saeed would be willing to face Muki if they were to compete together.  Iranian competitors have boycotted Israelis in the past. However, Saeed lost in the semi-finals and the match with Muki didn’t take place.

The new championship shared his victory with his coach Oren Smadja, who had trained him since his youth. Smadja is himself a former Israeli judo champion, having won silver at the 1995 World Judo Championship.

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Muki’s victory in Europe and now the world championships bodes well for the next summer’s Olympics.

Israel’s judo program has long been outstanding. In January, Israel held a major judo event in which 53 countries competed. Israelis won seven medals at that event.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Muki on the victory. “Wonderful Sagi Muki – bringing a lot of respect and pride to all of us,” he tweeted.