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Israeli athletes start competing as Olympics get underway in Tokyo

Shira Rishony loses fight for judo bronze; Avishag Semberg 1st Israeli to win Olympic taekwondo fight, loses next round; gymnast Dolgopyat, badminton player Zilberman advance

Israel's Abishag Semberg (blue) and Puerto Rico's Victoria Stambaugh (red) compete in the taekwondo women's -49kg elimination round bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Javier SORIANO / AFP)
Israel's Abishag Semberg (blue) and Puerto Rico's Victoria Stambaugh (red) compete in the taekwondo women's -49kg elimination round bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Javier SORIANO / AFP)

Israeli judoka Shira Rishony lost her shot at an Olympic bronze medal Saturday after being defeated by Ukrainian Daria Bilodid. Rishony had been the first Israeli athlete with a shot at a medal.

Rishony, ranked 15th in the world in the women’s -48kg category, had surprised many observers by qualifying for the quarterfinals. She lost that fight but won her next, putting her one fight away from a bronze.

Rishony and Bilodid faced off in a tense four-minute fight in which both nearly scored on several occasions. Bilodid eventually sealed the deal with an ippon in the last few seconds.

Rishony’s father Amir told Ynet he was proud of his daughter’s “insane achievement… [defying] the general sense was that she would not reach such a place. She showed everyone that with determination and willpower, achievements are possible.”

Earlier Israel won its first-ever Olympic Taekwando fight, with Avishag Semberg advancing through the qualifying round in the opening day of the Tokyo games, before losing her next battle.

Semberg defeated Puerto Rico’s Victoria Stambaugh 22-2 in the women’s -49 kg event.

In the subsequent round of 16 though, Semberg was soundly defeated 29-5 by Thailand’s Panipak Wongpattanakit, who is the favorite to win the gold. The 19-year-old Israeli still can win a bronze if she is victorious in her remaining fights.

In badminton, in a career highlight, Israel’s Misha Zilberman won his first match against Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth of India, ranked 15 in the world. He is now expected to play against the Dutch Mark Caljao.

Elsewhere in Tokyo, Israel’s artistic gymnast Alexander Shatilov fell out of the competition after failing to advance to the final eight. The 34-year-old later said this will likely be his final Olympics.

Artem Dolgopyat, meanwhile, was expected to reach the finals after scoring 15.2 in the opening round.

Israel’s Shira Rishony (white) competes with Colombia’s Luz Alvarez during their judo women’s -48kg elimination round bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)

In the archery men’s individual ranking round, held ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday, Israel’s Itay Shanny finished in 60th place out of 64 competitors. He will face Japan’s Hiroki Muto on Tuesday in the round of 32.

At 1 p.m., Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko and Ron Polonsky will hop into the pool for the women’s 100m butterfly and men’s 400m individual medley qualifying competitions respectively.

A full schedule for Israel’s athletes at the Tokyo Olympics can by found here.

Israel’s Artem Dolgopyat competes in the pommel horse event of the artistic gymnastics men’s qualification during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

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