Two Israeli athletes will compete in Olympic finals in Tokyo Sunday, as the Jewish state hopes to expand its medal haul from the two bronzes it has netted so far.
The day’s most anticipated showing will be by gymnast Artem Dolgopyat, Israel’s best hope for a gold medal at this year’s games. Dolgopyat, a 24-year-old two-time world championship silver medalist, will compete at 11 a.m. (Israel time) in the floor exercise of men’s artistic gymnastics.
The gymnast was ranked first in the qualifying event after scoring 15.2. If he does manage to clinch a gold medal, it will be only the second in the country’s history, following windsurfer Gal Fridman’s 2004 win in Athens.
Also taking part in a final will be Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko, who will compete in the women’s triple jump medal fight at 2:15 p.m. (Israel time).
At 6:00 a.m. in Israel, the national baseball team will hope to reverse its losing streak as it faces Mexico, after being defeated by South Korea (5-4) and the US (8-1). A loss in this game will knock the team out of the contest.
At that same time, Noya Bar Am and Shahar Tibi will compete in windsurfing in the women’s 470 races 7 and 8.
Earlier, at around 4:00 a.m. in Israel, Adva Cohen took part in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase qualification race, but finished last.
In semi-Israeli news, Russian tennis player Aslan Karatsev (who spent his childhood in Israel but has not lived in the country since age 12) will compete for the gold in the tennis mixed doubles finals after he and partner Elena Vesnina defeated world no. 1 Novak Djokovic and his partner Nina Stojanovic Friday.
Karatsev and Vesnina will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev in an all-Russian final Sunday. The time for the match has yet to be determined.
Saturday saw Israel clinch its second medal of the games, winning the judo mixed team bronze. The team scored a victory over their Russian opponents in the consolation round of an event being held for the first time this year.
The medal served as a heartening conclusion to a week of frustration for Israeli judo — one of the country’s strongest sports — as fighters all lost their individual efforts to win medals.
Top judoka Sagi Muki said the whole team had given everything they had to win the medal.
“Everyone here gave their heart and soul, and together we did it,” he said.
Added Peter Paltchik: “Everyone had a week that was very disappointing on a personal level, but something about this special day led to everyone giving a little more for the team, and that’s what made the difference,” he said of the victory. “We were eulogized too soon.”
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Israel won two bronzes in judo, bringing the country’s total of Olympic medals to nine (now eleven) — four in judo (now five), with the sport considered a source of national pride.
Eleven medals were awarded to the Israeli team, including to judokas who did not compete but were registered as team members on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Yoav Cohen finished in first place in the Men’s RS:X Windsurfing final race on Saturday, but it was not enough to put him on the podium, with the Israeli coming in fourth overall.
Also 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, 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.
Avishag Semberg’s taekwondo bronze in the women’s -49kg category last week was Israel’s first medal at the games until the mixed team’s win.
See the full Olympics schedule for Israel’s athletes here.