Tokyo Triumph: Israel Celebrates Best Olympic Games Ever

Israeli Gymnast
Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP

Israel ended its Tokyo journey Sunday by celebrating its best Olympic Games ever with four medals, including two gold.

On Saturday Linoy Ashram won gold in the women’s rhythmic gymnastics. Last week, Israeli artistic gymnast Artem Dolgopyat scored Israel’s second ever gold medal in the men’s artistic gymnastics floor exercise competition.

A day earlier saw Israel winning two bronze medals in mixed judo and women’s taekwondo under 49 kg weight class.

Team Israel competes in the group all-around final of the Rhythmic Gymnastics event during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics centre in Tokyo, on August 8, 2021. (MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Israel had won just four medals.

It sent 90 athletes to Tokyo, nearly double the record-breaking 47 it sent to Rio four years ago.

For the first time ever, and after decades of campaigning by the victims’ families, an official commemoration for the 11 Israelis murdered in a terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics was held during the opening ceremony.

Iranian defector and judoka Saeid Mollaei dedicated his silver medal to Israel, and thanked the Jewish state for the “good energy.”

Israel’s Linoy Ashram (C) and Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs (R) carry their national flags during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on August 8, 2021. (ADEK BERRY/AFP via Getty Images)

Mollaei left the Iranian team after his refusal to forfeit a match against Israeli judoka Sagi Muki in 2019. Soon after he was granted refugee status by Germany when he was forced to flee his birthplace.

He eventually received citizenship in Mongolia and competed on the country’s behalf in the final of the men’s judo 81-kilogram division.

“This medal is also dedicated to Israel and I hope the Israelis appreciate this achievement,” Mollaei said.

“I hope the Israelis are happy with this win,” Mollaei said, and added in Hebrew: “Todah (thank you).”

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