“Even today, two weeks after the medal, I still think that some factor from other worlds made sure that the achievement was made in my team,” Moshe Ponti sighed, noting that his head was still in Nippon Bodokan in Tokyo. “In the individual competitions we did the maximum. Everyone did the maximum. But in the group competition it was something.“
The maximum was not enough.
“Listen, our opening is amazing. After all, initial and blessed poetry have not been marked as having to bring a medal and then you open the first two days with their fights for a medal and you say, ‘Wow, what an opening I have. What will happen next?’ “Everyone lost in the first fights to the Jordan Jerby medal. Shira Rishoni, Gili Cohen, Golan Polak. It was crazy, but the sequel was great.“
If I told you before the flight to Tokyo that this was how you would open Judo Week, would you buy it with both hands?
“Obviously. We went there knowing that the better days would come later in the competition.“
You were close to a bronze medal for the first two days, but then comes the third day with the purity of botball.
“True. Purity went up in a battle in which he lost and I was convinced he would win because Purity Judoka is excellent, but he is not valid enough.”
Three hard days have passed without a personal medal and then comes Sagi Muki’s favorite day and there is not even a house of consolation. How did you feel?
“I felt very bad. Obviously. I felt we were not going. Day after day not going. Instead of starting with two medals of poetry and blessing, I find myself after four days without any medal. After the day of Sagi’s fights, the feeling was really bad but not “I could show it. I had to stay strong and not show that it was difficult for me. We expected a mistake for much more and it did not happen.“
Sagi is perhaps Israel’s senior athlete most affected by the postponement of the Olympics?
“Sure. Both Sagi and Peter. They were both at their peak a year ago. Sagi was a world champion in 2019. In the Masters after that he was crazy. Something happened that year. It’s not an excuse, yes. But it’s the truth.“
Phonetic takes air. Two weeks have passed since he returned from Tokyo and he ranges from the deep disappointment of not having a personal medal to the immense happiness he feels about the team medal. The chairman of the Judo Association is not looking to whitewash or sweep. He knows better than anyone that he could have been better.
Where was your biggest breaking point in the week of battles?
“In the segment with Peter. Because I saw the fight. I knew he was winning it. Peter controlled the fight and was just missing a penny for him to drop it. That’s how I felt. Then Peter fell and I was broken after that fight.“
You went back to the Olympic Village and what did you say to yourself?
“I went back to the room and said to myself that I just want Uri Sasson to come next Friday and have a good fight against Teddy Riner. That he will just try to beat him and look good. That they will not get down on him. And Uri gave a great fight. He did not win, but he gave a great fight. I do not know What will Uri do next, although I guess, but he came out of this competition in a respectable way. “
Then the personal battles end and you enter Friday night. The next day the group competition awaits. What mood were you in?
“Very bad. I was very upset after the days gone by. We arrived in the village after a very hard week and everyone is broken, but then I saw Oren and Shani in their greatness. You can talk about them, say things about Oren, but Oren and Shani put the whole team on its feet. They told a friend.” “We will do it tomorrow.” They believed wholeheartedly and instilled that belief in the athletes. They went downstairs and shouted, “We are doing this.” –
At the end of the group competition was greater than any personal loss. I think this medal is more important than the two you brought Mario.
“I do not beautify things. We came to compete in person. We knew we had my team on the last day, but we were all focused on personal. It is true that there is a world championship and European team championship, but we did not think too much about the team in the Olympics. “In my team. In the end it turned out that this team competition is more interesting than the individual. That people here in the country sat down to watch the battles on Saturday and were moved to tears. I tell you we have great athletes.”
So you give a lot of credit to Oren Samadja and the two Hershko in this comeback that led to winning the medal?
“Sure. I was a coach. I know what it is and I’m telling you I do not know if I could have behaved like them on Friday night and Saturday morning before the fights. And they were together. That’s what’s beautiful about my team. I’ve not seen them all those years like Friday night. It’s such a tough week personally and I do not know if I could have done what they did.It was a union of two winners who came to beat Italy first with Gili Sharir who twice won an Olympic medalist. Purity Botbol was close to taking us to the next level with a win over France that eventually took the gold, but we lost. Then we moved to Brazil and won a very talented team. We wanted very much to succeed. We wanted to show how good and excellent the athletes are. It is towards Paris. “
What are the reasons?
“I will not be able to elaborate before I talk about them with the athletes, but I have drawn my own conclusions and things will look different.“
What was it like when you returned to Israel?
“It was impossible to get out of the terminal here in the country. It was crazy. It was even stronger than in Rio. What my team did changed the whole thought of the children and the parents. I am so grateful and proud of the children all over the country who supported and held our fingers. Whole families stood up “At five in the morning to watch the battles. It excites me. I have never received so many responses. People come to me and say to me, ‘You are phonetic.‘ They shake hands. It’s exciting.”
Gili Cohen did not receive the medal there and returned very sad.
“It sits on my heart. Believe me. My heart goes out to her.“
What exactly happened there?
“It is impossible to give a medal to an athlete who is not registered on the form. Now, since only two athletes of each weight can be registered, Timna Nelson Levy and another one had to be registered for 57 kilos. “She is injured and she also said that. And she decided that she did not participate and did not register.“
Does that mean that if Gili Cohen had signed up, Shira Rishoni would have returned disappointed without the medal?
“True. The French also had two Jews who did not receive the gold medal in my group. A man and a woman.“
Then you were asked there in Nippon Bodokan to convince the organizers to bring a medal for my age as well.
“Shani came to me and said, ‘Ponti, you have to go. Ponti, you have to get her a medal.‘ At the end? I went. They’re all in suits and ties and I go into the banquet room for my age. The person in charge of the competition comes and tells me that it is impossible. This is an Olympics. This is not a European Championship or a World Championship that can change things because the World Union determines. But here it’s an Olympics. Gili was badly injured, but it was impossible to give her a medal. What can I do? I returned with my tail between my legs in great sorrow. “
What did you explain to her?
“Know that I did not even once enter the girls’ room at a competition in Tokyo, but I went into Gili’s room the next morning to talk to her. She was depressed and I told her I felt shit that she was not with everyone. I asked her to get up and be with everyone. I told her too. “If she did not receive the medal and did not receive the grant from the Olympic Committee, I will make sure to give her the grant from the union. I promised her she would not be deprived.“
She has not calmed down until now?
“When we got to a field in the country she asked me not to go out with everyone, but to go out to her mother who was waiting for her. I released her in pain. Believe me. She was very hurt and I understand her. It’s hard to feel outsider, but we are not to blame.“
Next time it needs to be changed.
“Obviously. Certainly. And I have already sent them a letter about it. I also wrote about the fact that it is not possible for an athlete to win the draw for a tie.breaker as Gili Sharir did and immediately in the next competition against another country he will win again. Gili won four fights instead of two. “The second can’t be the one that came out for the first time. But that was the rules. I was told to talk to Marius about it. It needs to be addressed.”
With a hand on heart, are you happy for your part about the group medal or are you jealous of the gymnastics association that came back with two gold medals?
“I swear to you, you do not understand how happy I am for the Gymnastics Association and for Linoy and Artium. If there is jealousy it is jealousy out of paragon and not eye trouble. I promise you that we too will have an athlete like Linoy Ashram who will be the gold favorite in Paris 2024. “At the level of Linoy Ashram. I believe in that.“
What about you on a personal level? Will you run for the presidency of the Olympic Committee after Yigal Carmi?
“When did I say I would run for the presidency of the Olympic Committee? I never declared it. People want to produce a battle between me and the Olympic Committee. It will not happen.“
Can you promise that you did not run in front of Yael Arad?
“I do not commit to anything. Maybe tomorrow different people will come and want me to run for the job? I want to show the things I do for others as well. I am open to any idea, but it is not that tomorrow morning I am running for this job. I am currently focusing only on the third union. And two. “
The big back of the Judo Association was the Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev and now you do not have her.
“Believe me this union is very strong and if anyone wants to cut my budget, I will know how to fight for it.“
If they split the budget cake differently in 2022, what would you do?
“I’m not saying you should not bring more to those who brought achievements. I said it before and I say it now. The gymnastics association should get a higher budget thanks to its achievements in Tokyo. It has proven itself. There is nothing to talk about at all. Give it budgets to bring. “Four medals in Paris. ‘
Say cynically that you are afraid of their medal because taekwondo is similar to judo and that they will attract children from you.
“They also said that people came to Nippon Bodokan to see that I was done and to confirm the killing. I feel well with Avishag Samberg and the Taekwondo Association. I wish there were many more teenagers going there from now on.”
If you did not have a group medal, you would return disassembled from Tokyo.
“I did not return empty.handed. We proved that judo is very strong. We were on the podium with France, Japan and Germany. Do you understand what it is? You were there. You saw the high level. It was also important for me to break the tradition that 12 years go by. “And that’s what happened between 1992, 2004, 2016. And now in Tokyo 2020 we brought the team medal. We broke that one medal every 12 years. We proved to everyone that we do not come back empty.handed.“
Assuming you stay in the Judo Association and Yael Arad heads the Olympic Committee. How can you get along when you’re not talking?
“I prepared for the Olympics for eight years. Who helped me? Only the sports director. I had no connection at all with the Olympic Committee.“
So can you succeed without the Olympic Committee?
“I succeeded. What do you think was between London and Rio? What was between Rio and Tokyo? Do you know that people come to me to learn from many unions? They sit with me and talk to me and want me to advise them. I do not want to be proud of it, but believe me one of the important branches sat with me. Learn how to make an Olympic medal. “
Uri Sasson will compete in 2024?
“He depends on Uri Sasson. Uri is very smart who understands his limitations. When he wants to decide, he will decide.“
If he retires, do we have someone to replace him with the open weight?
“We have. We need to develop it, but there is.“
But the spearhead will still be Sagi Muki and Peter Plachik who will have to bring a medal.
“I will always aspire to a medal. Now I will give a strong emphasis to my team. We will create a stronger team. We have Matan Kokulaev weighing up to 60 kilograms who has already proven himself. There are a lot of good guys.“
In the weights of Purity Butbul and Sagi Muki do we have candidates to break forward?
“Yes. There is an unequivocal yes. In Paris we will also have 12 athletes. Six men and six women. I want a strong team again.”