Israel’s Sasson lands in Morocco for judo marquee
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.
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.