Israel’s mixed team in judo scored a 4:2 victory over Brazil on Saturday in the repechage at the Tokyo Olympics, with a match against the Russian team now standing between the Israeli athletes and a bronze medal.
Tohar Butbul won his first match in the round before Gili Sharir lost to her opponent.
A win for Li Kochman was shortly followed by a defeat for Raz Hershko, leaving the score at 2:2.
However a win for Peter Paltchik took the score to 3:2 before Timna Nelson-Levy won the deciding bout, with the final score at 4:2 in Israel’s favor.
Earlier in the day Israel lost 4-3 to France in the quarter-finals after initially taking a strong lead 3-1.
France fought back to level out the scores 3-3 before winning the final bout in the event that is being competed for the first time at the games.
Nelson-Levy won the first match before Butbul lost his fight, leaving the score level at 1:1.
Wins for Sharir and Kochman took the result to 3:1, before losses for Raz Hershko and Or Sasson left it at 3:3 ahead of Sharir’s second decisive fight, which she lost to Margaux Pinot.
In the previous elimination round of 16, Israel defeated Italy 4-3 — Sharir won two bouts, while Hershko and Paltchik also won.
Sharir’s victory over individual bronze medalist Maria Centracchio was a tie-breaker in the competition.
As a nation, Russia are banned from Tokyo 2020 after being found guilty of state-sponsored doping, meaning their athletes cannot use the Russian flag and anthem.
But more than 330 Russian athletes have been allowed to compete under the ROC moniker, meaning Russia has a significant presence in Tokyo.
The French team will now face Japan, which is hoping for its 10th gold medal in judo at the Olympics.
On Thursday, unnamed officials in Israel’s delegation to the Tokyo Olympics voiced strong criticism of the country’s judo team.
No Israeli has even reached the semifinals in this year’s competition.
“This is a huge failure. Conclusions must be drawn as to how this collapse happened at the Olympics,” an unnamed delegation official is quoted as saying by Ynet. “There is something systematic here, it isn’t a one-time failure, and all the judokas lost to inferior rivals.”
Earlier in the week the Israeli Olympic Committee said in a statement that “summaries and conclusions will only be drawn at the end of the games when we return to Israel.”
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Israel won two bronzes in judo, bringing the country’s total of Olympic medals to nine (now ten) — four in judo, with the sport considered a source of national pride.
Avishag Semberg’s taekwondo bronze in the women’s -49kg category last Saturday remains Israel’s only medal so far in the 2021 games.
Meanwhile windsurfer Yoav Cohen finished in first place in the Men’s RS:X Windsurfing medal race on Saturday, but it was not enough to put him on the podium with the Israeli coming in fourth overall.
Earlier Saturday, Israeli archer Itay Shanny’s surprise Olympic run ended when he lost in the last eight in the men’s individual competition after a dramatic shoot off was needed to separate him from eventual victor Tang Chih-chun.
Shanny, 22, and his Taiwanese opponent were tied at five sets each and the final result coming down to a single arrow, with the one closest to the center advancing to the quarter-finals.
Tang hit the center, scoring 10 points, while Shanny scored a nine.
Shanny, who is the Jewish state’s first-ever archer to reach the Olympics, surprised with his run, knocking out two higher-ranked archers. Shanny had placed 60th out of 64 competitors in the initial ranking round.
Israel’s swimmers also finished 8th in the Olympic debut of the 4×100-meter mixed medley relay after a strong display to make the final.
Britain won the event where two men and two women per country swim different legs, smashing the world record in the process. The United States finished fifth.
Agencies contributed to this report.