Israeli judoka Tal Flicker is coming home with a bronze medal in the under-66 kilogram (145-pound) weight class from the World Judo Championships in Budapest after besting Ukrainian judoka Georgii Zantaraia.
Zantaraia went into the match in a stronger position, having won the gold medal in this weight class during April’s European Judo Championships.
This is Israel’s ninth medal in World Judo Championship history.
“A world championship is the hardest competition there is. Each match is a world war,” said Flicker, 25. “Sometimes, matches don’t end quickly and you have to fight until the last second. I’m happy that I won in the end. I dedicate this event to so many people who stand behind me – the Israeli national team, my family and friends and my girlfriend.”
The Israel Olympic Committee, the Culture and Sports Ministry and the Israel Sports Betting Board will award Flicker and his coach, Olympic medalist judoka Oren Smadja, ₪60,000 ($17,000) for this achievement.
Flicker has had an extraordinary year. He won a gold medal at the Grand Slam in Baku, Grand Prix Cancun and European Open in Lisbon, as well as a bronze at the Grand Prix in Düsseldorf.
President Reuven Rivlin called Flicker in Budapest to congratulate him, reportedly telling him that Israel expects him to win a medal at the next Olympic Games. Israel has won five Olympic medals in judo, more than in any other sport, but never a gold.