Retired Yarden Gerbi learned the spirit of survival

    Retired Yarden Gerbi learned the spirit of survival

    26 Sep 2020 14:05

     Nicolas Messner – IJF    Oliver Sellner


    2013 World Champion and 2016 Olympic medallist Yarden Gerbi competed at Israelian TV show Survivor. It’s a world wide TV format where also other judoka competed all around the world. Surviving on an Island for two months is tough. Being 100% disconnected Gerbi realized what is most valuable for her.

    Nicolas Messner of the IJF asked her how Judo helped her during those two months battling, sometimes without food, 100% without friends and family and with the will to win.

    Yarden: Judo prepared me for everything. I was ok without eating, as I knew the feeling from dieting during my judo career. I lost 8 kg on the island and I lost a lot of muscle. Also to sleep on the sand with bugs and crabs was ok, because I got used to it and knew it was part of the show, but I did really miss my close people. I was denying in my mind the fact that I missed them but that was the most difficult part.

    IJF: You often mention that judo helped you a lot during the adventure. How? Why?

    Yarden: Judo taught me to respect everyone, no matter who they are and where they are coming from. I never spoke badly or shouted. Also it was ok for me to deal with the conditions with regard to food and sleep. I was dealing with harder situations in judo during my career, like stress, hard training and pressure. I believe that nothing is more difficult than the road to an Olympic medal in judo. During the game we also had missions to complete and the mental resilience required within competitive judo helped me a lot. I stayed 3 hours and 17 minutes on a stick that turns and won that mission. At the end I was competing against my best friend in the show, a fighter in the army and I won. There is nothing I can’t do or can’t win and it all comes from judo; the confidence and power. You know, another important point is that I started judo when I was 6 years old, with Shany Hershko, my coach, until I retired at the age of 28. I never changed coach. During the show, I was always loyal to my friends, from the beginning until the end. In this kind of TV programme, it’s very difficult to keep loyalty. I’m happy I proved it’s possible.

    IJF: What are the main values that helped you to overcome all the difficulties?

    Yarden: Again, I think there is nothing more difficult than the road to an Olympic medal, so I know, in each part of my body, I’ve been through the most difficult situations already, so survivor could never break me. The most emotional moment was when my father came to the island

    Read the full story at the IJF website.

    This article was originally published on

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