Judo Champ Yarden Gerbi Is Born
Yarden Gerbi (right) competes for the bronze medal at the 2015 European Championships against a Portuguese athlete. (credit: Interfase, own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

July 8, 1989

Israeli judo champion Yarden Gerbi is born in Kfar Saba. Her success in national and international competitions includes a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

At age 6, Gerbi begins training under Shani Hersko, a former coach of the national women’s judo team. Hersko remains Gerbi’s trainer throughout her career. Gerbi wins national championships in 2007 and 2008, among a total of eight in her career, and rises to the top of the world rankings in May 2013. She defeats European champion Clarisse Agbegnenou of France on the way to the gold medal at the World Judo Championships in August 2013, making her the first Israeli to win a world judo title. The Jerusalem Post names her the Israeli Sports Personality of the Year for 2013. She takes the silver at the 2014 World Championships.

Her bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics is the first medal won by an Israeli woman since the silver Yael Arad earned in judo at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the same games at which Oren Smadja won Israel’s first men’s medal with a bronze in judo. Five of Israel’s nine Olympic medals through 2016 have come in judo.

Gerbi retires from competition after Rio but remains an active supporter of youth judo in Israel.