Tel Aviv Grand Slam gold medalist Timna Nelson-Levy residing her finest life

Tel Aviv Grand Slam gold medalist Timna Nelson-Levy living her best life

2021-02-26 05:20:45

Coming off of her gold medal efficiency within the under-57kg class on the Tel Aviv Grand Slam this previous week, the judoka’s reputation has gone off the charts as she readies for her first Olympic Video games, slated for Tokyo this coming summer time.

The Jerusalem Put up had the unique alternative to talk with Nelson-Levy about her success so far, the game she fell in love with, the delight she has for Israel in addition to her roots which started in America and the unimaginable story of the Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who competed within the Holy Land.

“To start with, successful a gold medal is the perfect feeling on the earth,” started the 26-year outdated. “To win on your private home soil is totally completely different and the thrill is double of what it will usually be. Two years in the past in Israel once I gained the gold medal, there have been 1000’s of followers within the stands and they’re so supportive. Israelis have a love for the spirit of judo.

“This time nevertheless, I missed them because of the coronavirus restrictions. Particularly once I sang our nationwide anthem, Hatikvah, on the high of the rostrum. However the whole week has been wonderful as I acquired the love and help from folks world wide and I’ve been answering their messages for days. It warms my coronary heart.”

Nelson-Levy acknowledged how difficult holding a world class competitors is throughout a pandemic and mentioned that the Israel Judo Affiliation (IJA), headed by Moshe Ponti, was in a position to go above for the wants of the entire athletes who arrived within the nation.

“The Worldwide Judo Federation had very strict rules that wanted to be adopted. The judokas needed to undergo a battery of COVID-19 exams earlier than boarding the constitution flights to Israel, as soon as they arrived and the day earlier than they competed. We have been all remoted on the resort and have been solely in a position to exit to coach and to our bouts.

“Normally Grand Slam occasions are held in bigger international locations like Japan and France, whereas international locations like Israel host Grand Prixs. Moshe Ponti, who was in a position to pull this off, deserves an enormous quantity of credit score as properly the Israel Judo Affiliation – they simply did an excellent job. Regardless of the entire challenges, the competitors was wonderful as any I’ve gone to everywhere in the world to compete and this one was good. All the judokas came visiting to me and mentioned how a lot they liked Israel as a result of they acquired every part they required. This made me so proud.”

The Olympics have been postponed final summer time with the outbreak of the coronavirus and at the moment are scheduled to happen in Japan this coming July and August. For Nelson-Levy, who has captured three golds, two silvers and 7 bronze medals in varied competitions since 2017, this shall be her debut on the Video games and believes that attributable to her arduous work and deception she is primed for a giant summer time.

“I am going into each competitors with the identical expectations; to complete with a medal and to be on high of the rostrum. That’s due to how arduous I work and what I really feel I deserve. I’m in unimaginable form and I’m going into the Video games with expectations to win a medal. My coach, Shani Hershko, and I do know that I deserve a medal and I do know that with my talents I can seize one. However when money-time comes, I’ve to show it.”

Nelson-Levy’s roots started in the USA, the nation the place her dad and mom – Shmuel from Boston and Laura from Cherry Hill, NJ – met and married. In 1985, the couple picked up and left every part behind to begin their life within the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel.

“My dad was a boxer and is now a stockbroker whereas my mother was a swimmer in class and is presently a tour information. They’ve a giant backyard at our household dwelling in Kiryat Yovel that she made into heaven.

“My mom simply loves speaking about Israel and taking folks across the nation. They made aliyah leaving their total household behind as a result of they’re each very Zionistic they usually each love Israel. My dad and mom imbued their love of the nation in me. I’m so proud once I see the Israeli flag and I’m so proud to be Israeli. I signify Israel, I signify Jerusalem and I signify our lovely flag.”

Curiously, Nelson-Levy didn’t start coaching in judo till her mid-teens.

“As a toddler I started with blended martial arts and at 15 I joined the Meitav Jerusalem Membership underneath the course of chairman Yoel Libster and we began to work collectively. I liked the competitors and my dream was to get to the Olympic Video games and to win a medal. I knew I needed to change disciplines so as to make that occur.”

In 2010, Nelson-Levy turned a part of the Nationwide Workforce program with Hershko simply as change was coming to the IJA.

“Girls’s coach Shani Hershko, who’s with me virtually 24/7 and travels world wide for coaching and competitions, and males’s coach Oren Smadga got here on board the identical yr they usually utterly modified the affiliation that now has a giant base of athletes. They labored a ton and what they did was completely loopy. Together with Moshe Ponti, they deserve a large quantity of credit score and I’m so blissful for all of them once you see the outcomes.”

As she moved up the ranks, Nelson-Levy started to position properly in junior nationwide workforce competitions after which in 2016, she stunned everybody with a bronze medal on the European Championships.

“Nobody anticipated me to do a lot at that match and the aim was to only acquire expertise. However I got here again dwelling with the bronze, went to extra competitions and right this moment I’m ranked No. 7 on the earth.”

Nelson-Levy appreciated what she was in a position to see and be taught from Israeli 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Yarden Gerbi and has used that as inspiration for her personal journey.

“Yarden was an excellent athlete, probably the greatest that Israel has ever had. I noticed her work day-in and day-out and he or she labored very, very arduous. One among issues that I attempt to do as properly is to encourage younger athletes that something is feasible.”

One of many large storylines on the earth of judo over the previous couple of years is that of Iranian judoka Mollaei, who left his beginning nation so as to compete as a free man. He now represents Mongolia and made his first ever journey to Israel.

Nelson-Levy is enamored by Mollaei’s bravery and what he stands for.

“He’s an excellent athlete and particular person. I like his judo fashion, however what he did was heroic. For him to come back right here to Israel, exhibits a lot about who he’s.

“After I gained the gold medal, he congratulated me and I congratulated him when he gained the silver. Generally he writes to me on Instagram to say good luck. I see him as a task mannequin. Not many individuals may do what he did. When he obtained right here, he acquired a lot love from all of us and we took such excellent care of him with a coaching companion, masseuse, a dietician and he actually felt our love. If there would have been followers on the occasion he would have began crying when the folks would have referred to as his title. He’s an actual mensch.”

For Israeli judokas similar to Nelson-Levy to succeed, funding is essential to ensure that them to carry out on the high of their recreation. Whereas the Israel Olympic Committee helps the athletes as they attempt to signify the nation and convey dwelling medals, that is nonetheless an enormous problem for all concerned as every judoka seeks out funding streams to have the ability to focus solely on the one aim that they’ve and that Israel has – to be the perfect and provides the perfect as they compete as properly for the Jewish folks worldwide.

“Companies and sponsorships are so essential for me to be the perfect at what I do and helps preserve me targeted on what the final word aim is, whereas conserving a quiet thoughts. Athletes want outdoors help so as to complement the federal government funding. Because the primary sport in Israel, which has been essentially the most profitable sport within the nation, judo wants as a lot help as it may possibly get to proceed reaching the very best of heights and we’re at all times in search of new companions to hitch us.”

The hopes and aspirations are excessive going into the Summer time Video games and Nelson-Levy would not need to mince phrases in relation to the aim that she has set for herself.

“We’ve got a powerful girls’s workforce and we will’t promise you that we are going to win a medal since you by no means know what can occur. However I can communicate for myself and that’s what I count on.”


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