(JTA) — Yarden Gerbi became the first Israeli to medal at the Rio Olympics, bringing home a bronze in the women’s 63-kg judo competition.
Gerbi defeated Miku Tashiro of Japan on Tuesday for Israel’s first Olympic medal since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She had also beaten China’s Yang Junxia and lost to Brazil’s Mariana Silva.
“The medal is for all of Israel, for everyone who supported me and cheered me on,” Gerbi said after her victory, according to Haaretz. “I’m waiting for someone to wake me up. I gave my soul and it paid off. Whoever said you can’t succeed in Israel is wrong,” she added, posing for a flood of pictures proudly pointing at the Israeli flag embroidered on her kimono.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “Yarden, you did it. We’re all proud of you.” President Reuven Rivlin in a phone call to Gerbi called the Israeli athlete a “champion” and said that “today, you are our hero.”
Israel narrowly missed another medal in judo on Monday when Sagi Muki lost to Lasha Shavdatuashvili of Georgia in the bronze medal match.
Shahar Tzuberi had won the last medal for Israel — a bronze in sailing.