Is­rael’s Sas­son lands in Morocco for judo mar­quee

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Ori Sas­son will take part in the Open­weight World Cham­pi­onships in Mar­rakesh on Satur­day after ar­riv­ing in Morocco on Thurs­day.

Is­rael’s bronze medal­ist from the Rio Olympics flew to Mu­nich on Wed­nes­day, but couldn’t con­tinue di­rectly to Mar­rakesh as he had yet to re­ceive a let­ter of of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion re­gard­ing his par­tic­i­pa­tion, a nec­es­sary pre­req­ui­site to his travel visa.

The mat­ter was ul­ti­mately re­solved on Thurs­day, with the Pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Judo Fed­er­a­tion, Mar­ius Vizer, in­ter­ven­ing to en­sure Sas­son, who is trav­el­ing with Is­rael Judo As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Moshe Ponte and men’s na­tional team coach Oren Smadja, could en­ter Morocco.

“When Mar­ius Vizer prom­ises some­thing he also keeps it. He is a true friend of the Is­rael Judo As­so­ci­a­tion,” said Ponte. “I’m happy that I in­sisted on trav­el­ing to this com­pe­ti­tion de­spite all the dif­fi­cul­ties.”

A record amount of prize money will be on the ta­ble at the Open­weight World Cham­pi­onships, mean­ing all of Sas­son’s top ri­vals will be par­tic­i­pat­ing, in­clud­ing Teddy Riner of France. The two-time de­fend­ing Olympic cham­pion and nine-time reign­ing world cham­pion who hasn’t lost a bout since Septem­ber 2010 beat Sas­son in the semi­fi­nals in Rio.

Gold medal­ists will earn a record 100,000 euro, with sil­ver medal­ists re­ceiv­ing 50,000 and bronze medal­ists tak­ing home 25,000. The prize money con­tin­ues be­yond the medal­ists, as the ju­dokas who will fin­ish in fifth will earn 10,000 euro while sev­enth place is worth 5,000.

In other judo news, Linda Bolder, who rep­re­sented Is­rael at the Rio Olympics, end­ing the un­der-70 kilo­gram com­pe­ti­tion in sev­enth place, has an­nounced her re­tire­ment at the age of 29. Bolder, who be­gan rep­re­sent­ing Is­rael in 2015 after fol­low­ing her hus­band to the coun­try from the Nether­lands, de­cided to end her ca­reer after strug­gling with in­juries over re­cent years.

“I’m proud to have coached an ath­lete like her who brought a lot to the Is­rael na­tional team,” said na­tional team coach Shani Her­shko. “I can un­der­stand her de­ci­sion to re­tire. She ex­pe­ri­enced sev­eral in­juries over the past year. We were sup­posed to meet to de­cide on a plan for 2018, but she no­ti­fied me that she plans to re­tire and I ac­cept her de­ci­sion.”

Bolder’s an­nounce­ment comes one month after Rio bronze medal­ist Yar­den Gerbi quit the sport at the age of 27, ex­plain­ing she no longer had any mo­ti­va­tion to com­pete.

(Asaf Kliger)

IS­RAELI JUDOKA Ori Sas­son will com­pete in the Open­weight World Cham­pi­onships to­mor­row in Mar­rakesh, Morocco, after the is­sues pre­vent­ing him from ar­riv­ing in the Arab coun­try were re­solved yes­ter­day.

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