Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar on Wednesday greeted gold medal-winning judoka Inbar Lanir and the rest of the Israeli team returning from the 2023 World Judo Championships in Qatar.
“I am very proud of you, the people of Israel are very proud of you—you are doing great things for both sports and the country,” Netanyahu said.
Lanir last week became the third Israeli to win the world championship when the 23-year-old defeated France’s Audrey Tcheumeo in the finals of the 78-kilogram (172-pound) weight class at the championships held at the Ali Bin Hamad al-Attiyah Arena in Doha.
Her win on May 12 came as “Operation Shield and Arrow” against Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists in the Gaza Strip was ongoing and Lanir dedicated her win to the residents of southern Israel, the Israel Defense Forces and the State of Israel.
“It was so important for me to do something good during such complex and difficult days, and I’m happy and satisfied that I succeeded,” Lanir said following her victory.
Also in attendance at Wednesday’s welcoming ceremony was judoka Peter Paltchik, who won a bronze medal in the men’s 100 kg. (220-pound) event in Doha; chairman of the Judo Association Moshe Ponti; and coach Oren Smadja.
Raz Hershko also won a bronze medal in the women’s 78+ kg. (172-pound+) competition.
“I am standing between giants and winners. Well done to you, this is truly exceptional,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister continued, “You have brought very beautiful achievements. Israel judo has become a global sport. I am very proud of you, the people of Israel are very proud of you, you are doing great things for both sport and the country.”
Zohar said that Israel is looking into the possibility of hosting the World Championships in 2024 while noting that the budget has been doubled for preparations for Israelis to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. He also said that Israel has doubled sponsorships for athletes.
“This means that these guys will be able to get the best tools to prepare for the competition,” Zohar said.