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August 8, 2016 1:11 pm

Israel One Judo Fight Away From Olympic Medal

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Sagi Moki, winning the gold at the 2015 European championship. Photo: Israeli Olympic Committee.

Sagi Moki, winning the gold at the 2015 European championship. Photo: Israeli Olympic Committee.

Israel’s lightweight judo contender is one fight away from a medal at the Olympics in Rio, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Monday.

According to the report, after a string of disappointments during the first two days of the games, Israel is a hair’s breadth away from a victory, thanks to former men’s European champion judoka Sagi Moki, ranked seventh in the world. Moki beat American rival Nicholas Delpopolo in the quarter-finals, making it to the semi-finals in the under 73 kilo category.

However, nrg said, Moki’s next rival is a tough one — Rustam Orujov of Azerbaijan.

“We have been excitedly and nervously waiting since this morning, watching the judo battles and roaring from the stands, happy that Sagi Moki is going on to the semi-finals,” Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev wrote on social media from her perch at the games in Brazil, where she has been accompanying the Israeli team.

The 24-year-old Moki is from Netanya and considered one of Israel’s great hopes at the 2016 Olympics, the first of his career. He was crowned European champion in Baku in 2015.

Shay-Oren Smadja, the trainer of Israel’s judo team, discovered Moki when he was four years old and has been cultivating him ever since.

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