Winning Judo Silver in Tokyo, Iranian Defector Mollaei Dedicates Medal to Israel
Saeid Mollaei, a former Iranian judoka now representing Mongolia, took home the silver medal in the men’s 81-kilogram division, losing the gold to Takanori Nagase of Japan.
It was the first Olympic medal for Mollaei, two years after he left his native Iran, revealing that his national team coaches had ordered him to lose in the semifinals of the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo to avoid facing Israel’s Sagi Muki in the final. Mollaei subsequently moved to Germany and then acquired Mongolian citizenship.
Mollaei told the Israeli Sports Channel that he was thankful for the support he’s received from Israel over the years.
“Thank you to Israel for the good energy. This medal is dedicated also to Israel,” he told the network. “I hope the Israelis are happy with this win.”
He added in Hebrew: “Todah” (thank you). (TOI / VFI News)
“God, we ask you to look over the athletes representing Israel in the 2021 Olympics.”