Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei won a silver medal at the International Judo Federation’s Grand Slam last Friday in Israel, becoming not only the first Iranian to achieve victory in the country but also the first to compete in it.
Mollaei represented Mongolia in the under-81 kilograms category, where he came in second place after losing to Sharofiddin Boltaboev from Uzbekistan.
Mollaei become a Mongolian citizen after failing to return to Iran following the Tokyo 2019 World Championships in which he was reportedly ordered to lose a match in order not to face an Israeli opponent, Sagi Muki.
— sagi muki (@sagimuki) February 15, 2021
Muki welcomed Mollaei to Israel with a tweet that read, “Welcome brother.” Israel’s official Twitter account also welcomed Mollaei, saying, “We’d like to give a warm welcome to Iranian Judoka Saeid Mollaei who arrived in Israel to train with the Israeli team ahead of the Tel Aviv Grand Slam Competition!”
خوش آمدید pic.twitter.com/L33EiQARyC
— Israel ישראל (@Israel) February 18, 2021
The International Judo Federation quoted Mollaei as saying that he appreciative of the Israeli welcome.
“Ten years ago, even four, if you had asked me about the possibility of competing in Israel, you already know the answer; I would have told you that it would not be possible,” he was quoted as saying. “They have been very good to me since I arrived. Today I have trained with the Israeli team and they have been very kind. That is something I will never forget.”
Muki, meanwhile, did not get the chance to face off against his Iranian-Mongolian opponent in the Tel Aviv contest, having lost in his first round.