Israeli judoka Yarden Gerbi has become the first Israeli to win a medal at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Gerbi, 27, who also became the first Israeli to win a medal at the Olympics since the 2008 games in Beijing, defeated Japan’s Miku Tashiru to earn the bronze medal in the under-73kg judo competition.
Israeli leaders were quick to congratulate Gerbi, with President Reuven Rivlin phoning her to say that she is “champion” and that “today, you are our hero.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also tweeted: “Yarden, you did it. We’re all proud of you.”
Following her victory, Gerbi told reporters that she feels like she is still dreaming.
“I’m here to win, to give my heart and soul, and I still can’t believe it. Someone wake me up, I can’t believe it.
“My dream has come true. They say Israelis don’t have the character (to succeed in sports on the world stage), but we do have the character. I gave my life. It paid off. Whoever says Israelis can’t succeed is wrong. It does happen. It does happen,” she added.
Overall Gerbi became the seventh Israeli athlete to win a medal at the Olympics and the second woman to do so after Yael Arad took home a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.