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First Israeli medalist Yael Arad to head Olympic Committee

Judo champion will be first woman to fill position; calls on other women to take up key roles

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli Olympic judoka Yael Arad, right, celebrates and hugs her German opponent, Frauke Eickoff, after winning the semi-final match at the Barcelona  Olympics, on July 30, 1992. (AP Photo)
Israeli Olympic judoka Yael Arad, right, celebrates and hugs her German opponent, Frauke Eickoff, after winning the semi-final match at the Barcelona Olympics, on July 30, 1992. (AP Photo)

Yael Arad, Israel’s first-ever Olympic medalist, made history again on Sunday when she became the first woman selected to head the Olympic Committee of Israel, the umbrella organization for all Olympic sports in the country.

The former judoka is also the first medal-winner to hold the position.

Her appointment was expected, as she was the only candidate for the post.

“The vision I am bringing is first of all achievement. We still have a lot to do,” Arad said.

“Until now, a woman didn’t head the association, nor a former athlete,” Arad said. “I call on other women to apply for key roles.”

Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper welcomed her selection, saying in a statement: “I am convinced that Yael will know how to lead Olympic sports to great achievements and we will do everything in order to work together for the sake of Israeli sports.”

According to the OCI website, its main responsibilities are “to organize and prepare Israeli athletes for the Olympic Games and other competitions that are under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee or for other association and federation tournaments.”

Arad, 54, will replace Igal Carmi, who led the OCI for the past nine years.

In recent years, Arad volunteered on the OCI, and she has headed its professional committee since 2013.

Arad, who competed as a middleweight in the up to 61kg weight group, battled her way into the history books when she won a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, the first Israeli medal ever won. She also saw success in the world championships, bringing home a silver and a bronze medal in 1991 and 1993, respectively. In 1993, she became European champion.

After retiring from the competition, Arad continued to coach judo alongside going into business and has been a commentator on judo competitions.

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