Two Israeli judokas took home gold and silver medals at the Baku Grand Slam in Azerbaijan on Saturday, putting the athletes one step closer to the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Middleweight champion Sagi Muki defeated Bulgarian opponent Ivaylo Ivan in the men’s under-81 kilogram weight class to win the final held in Azerbaijan’s capital.
Fellow Israeli judoka Tohar Butbul won the silver medal in the under-71 kilogram category.
“I managed to win the gold after a long and exhausting day. I didn’t feel like it was my best performance, but I’m happy that I was able to overcome that,” Muki told the Sports 1 news site after his win Saturday.
“I get so much of my motivation from knowing that I represent Israel, and that my entire people are behind me in the good times and not-so-good times,” he said.
— חדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) May 11, 2019
Muki’s win puts him firmly on track to represent Israel in the Olympic Games, scheduled to take place in Tokyo. Muki, a two-time European champion, was considered a favorite for a medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but a disc injury thwarted his chances.
In October, Muki won the gold medal at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, which led to Israel’s national anthem being played in a Gulf state for the first time.