Israel Celebrates New Bronze Age

BY Lee Saunders   DATE 06/10/2016

Reaching the highest standards in sport requires the highest levels of discipline, attention to detail, commitment to hard work and excellence. It is no coincidence that the word ‘Dan’ means both a level of expertise in judo and the highest standards in the hotel industry.

Ori Sasson

Ori Sasson

Two of Israel’s five bronze medals in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio in August came in judo. Yarden Gerbi was the fourth Israeli judoka (judo expert), and only the second Israeli female athlete, to win an Olympic medal. Since returning home, Gerbi has won even more admirers after selling her Olympic name badge for NIS 200,000 on eBay to raise money for the pediatric cancer treatment unit at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital. Gerbi’s success in the 63kg category was quickly followed by Or Sasson, who powered through to take the country’s second bronze medal in the over 100kg grade.

Judo has unofficially become Israel’s national sport, having won five of its nine Olympic medals in the sport. The first ever medal – a silver – was won by Yael Arad in judo in the 1992 Barcelona Games, with many believing the popularity of the sport to be down to her achievements. During the same Games, Oren Smadja took a bronze medal. This was the last time that two Israeli athletes took home Olympic medals at the same Games. Moshe Fonti, the chairman of the Israel Judo Association, said: “This is what we are good at.” Fonti added that 60,000 Israeli schoolchildren now take judo classes.”

There was more success, glory and pride to follow in the Paralympic Games in September. A 30-strong Israeli team competed with great, strength and dignity in 11 categories, bringing home a further three bronze medals. World champion rower Moran Samuel (1000-meter single sculls), sharpshooter Doron Shaziri (men’s R7-50m Rifle 3 category) and swimmer Inbal Pezaro (200-meter freestyle) all secured third place finishes and Dan Hotels Israel could not be prouder.

Dan hotels for athletes

Dan Hotels Israel is widely considered a ‘home away from home’ for the athletes and share the values that no effort is too great and no obstacle is too high to achieve what you want to achieve. As a longstanding supporter of the Israeli Paralympic Committee for more than a decade, the Dan hotels provide team building activities, conferences, lectures, meeting rooms, accommodation and other facilities, which allows the team to plan, train and concentrate their efforts effectively to get the maximum results on the world stage. From the moment Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wished them luck before the Games at the Dan Jerusalem to the moment they returned proudly, with broad smiles and shiny medals, Dan Hotels has shared the Israeli public’s pride in them.

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“We would like to sincerely thank Dan Hotels for all their assistance and support to our athletes throughout all the preparations for the Games over the past four years. As Paralympic Sport continues to become ever more professional, and rightly so, the challenges of competing as a small country in such a global arena are immense. Without the complete support shown by the Dan, winning three medals could only have been a dream,” said Leah Schneider, Spokesperson for the Israel Paralympic Committee. Upon returning from the Games in Rio, Moran, Doron and Inbal celebrated their bronze medals with their families during a luncheon and a stay at the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel.


Now, all eyes shift to the next sporting extravaganza – the 20th Maccabiah Games, which will take place in Israel in July 2017. By the end of the last Maccabiah Games in 2013, the closing ceremony of which was held in the Dan Caesarea, 9,000 athletes had competed on behalf of 78 countries, making that event the third largest international sporting event in the world after the Olympics and Pan American Games. Let those athletes draw on the commitment shown by the Olympic and Paralympic athletes to inspire even more success next summer.

Written by  Lee Saunders