Born: January 16, 1977
Discipline: Judo (-100 kg)
Association: Hapoel Bnei Brak
Coaches: Ramaz Mamistblov, Alex Ashkenazi, Shani Hershko
Arik Ze’evi was born in January of 1977 and is considered to be one of Israel’s greatest athletes. After finishing in 5th place at the 2000 Sydney Olympics due to an incorrect referee decision (the referee was suspended for two years following the mistake!), the Israeli judoka began his successful journey to almost every podium at almost every competition.
However, his Olympic medal was achieved through agony. His first match was against Sabino from Brazil and was a tactical battle with shido penalties being issued to both sides for non-aggression. With 8 seconds remaining, Sabino received another shido penalty and a technical decision was handed to Ze’evi as he advanced to the Round of 16.
More than 2,000 Israelis came to cheer the Blue & White on at the games and saw Italian opponent Michele Monti ahead of Ze’evi with a Waza-ari. But with 45 seconds left, the Israeli judoka slammed his opponent with an Ippon for the win and a date with South Korean Sung Ho Jang. Ze’evi began the match well with a Waza-ari with 3:17 left. However, near the end of the match blood began to pour out of Ze’evi’s nose and his opponent scored an Ippon for the win.
Arik was forced to seek his fortune in the repechage (consolation round) and opened with an impressive victories over Franck Martial Moussima of Cameroon and Frenchman Ghislain Lemaire (ranked second in the world). Ze’evi faced Elco van Der Geest who surprised Kōsei from Japan who was a favorite for the gold, in the bronze medal contest. The match also happened to be a repeat of the European Championship bout from that same year. The two judokas were penalized with a Shido for non-aggression after two minutes, but one minute later Ze’evi scored a Koka and then won on an Ippon, lifting his arms in triumph.
“I didn’t really believe in myself,” admitted Ze’evi who had a marathon of 6 matches. “This was my worst competition of the year. I wasn’t quick or decisive and I won the battles through the skin of my teeth. All year I wasn’t like this. It’s only because of the crowd and the will to win that kept me going today.”
In Beijing 2008 just prior to his wedding, Arik Ze’evi was a favorite to win a medal amongst the Israeli athletes but despite that, the Israeli judoka was unable to capture another Olympic award.
2012 London Olympic Games Result: loss in first round
Outstanding Career Results:
1999 – Bronze Medal – European Championships
2000 – 5th place in the Sydney Olympic Games
2001 – Silver Medal – World Championship (open weight – not Olympic), Gold Medal – European Championships
2003 – Gold Medal – European Championships
2004 – Gold Medal – European Championships
2004 – Olympic Games in Athens – Bronze Medal
2005 – Silver Medal – European Championships
2007 – Bronze Medal – European Championships
2008 – Bronze Medal – European Championships
2008 – Beijing Olympic Games – one win
2010 – Bronze Medal – European Championships
2012 – Gold Medal – European Championships (the oldest competitor ever to win gold in the continental championship!).