Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won the gold medal at the World Judo Championship in Tokyo on Wednesday, becoming the first Israeli to accomplish such a feat.
The Israeli news site Mako reported that Muki burst into tears in the ring after winning the championship by beating Belgian judoka Matthias Casse.
“You have proven what I have said all the time — thanks to talented people like you, we have made Israel a judo superpower,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a video call after Muki’s win.
“So well done to all of you,” Netanyahu added. “Really, truly outstanding. Come to the prime minister’s office with the medal. Well done.”
Muki replied, “I will come, I will come. Thank you very much. I must say that representing Israel is a privilege. Many Israelis came here. Representing Israel is one of the things that gives me the most motivation, so I am so happy to be part of this country.”
To reach the championship, Muki won four of five fights against Casse, and entered the final by defeating Egyptian judoka Mohamed Abdelaal.
The fight with Abdelaal was marked by controversy after Abdelaal refused to shake hands or bow to Muki, as is traditional after a match.
In another such incident, the Iranian contender Saeid Mollaei threatened to drop out if he was chosen to fight Muki. In the end, no match took place between the two judokas.