Tommy Arshansky on Thursday won the bronze medal in the under-60 kilogram category at the European Championships in Budapest, giving the Israeli delegation its first medal of the contest on opening day.
“I competed with an injury and stepped on to the mat because coach Oren Smadja insisted,” the excited Arshansky told Sport5.
The 22-year-old Russian immigrant had previously won a number of medals on the World Cup circuit, and was Israel’s youngest judoka at the 2012 Summer Games in London, but had fallen into a rut over the last several months.
After a hard time and series of losses Smadja “insisted on bringing me to the European Championship,” Arshanksy said, thanking his coach.
Smadja, himself a former Olympic medalist, told the Israeli sports network he was happy for the team and for Tommy. “This is the start of a long journey with clear goals and objectives,” he said.
Including Arshansky, the blue and white team sent a total of six judokas — two of them women — to the competition.
Israel’s national judo team has long been successful, and the past year marked a change of guard with the retirement of Arik Zeevi and emergence of a few up and coming judokas, including three Olympians under the age of 25.