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Israeli jiu-jitsu fighter dedicates gold medal to friend slain on Oct. 7

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(JNS) “I dedicated my championship medal to my best friend Yochai who I grew up with. I’ve won a gold medal three times, but this was different,” Israeli jiu-jitsu fighter and Oct. 7 survivor Yarin Shriki told JNS on Tuesday.

“I wanted to sing ‘Hatikvah,’ I wanted everybody to listen. I did not fight for myself, I fought for my flag, for my country and for my friends who died,” he added.

Over the weekend, Shriki won a gold medal at the European Championship in Germany. He entered the final against Belgian Florian Bayili, ranked No. 1 in the world. He was the underdog, but was able to surprise his opponent during the fight.

As during previous fights, the athlete wore an outfit with the inscription “Yochai, 7/10/2023.”

On Oct. 7, Shriki was recovering from ear surgery and was told to rest from strenuous activity for a month, when his brother invited him to attend the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. Two days before I bought a ticket. Both of my brothers drove in one car and I got in another with one of my friends,” recounted Shriki.

“We arrived at around 2 a.m. and at 6:30 a.m., the assault started. We ran to the parking lot and started to drive. Everyone drove in different locations, I fled to Tze’elim and my brothers drove to Beit Kama. I couldn’t join them because there were terrorists everywhere,” he added.

One of Shriki’s friends who serves in an IDF combat unit and trained with him three years before the massacre, fled on the same road as him. He drove ahead and fended off dozens of terrorists allowing Shriki to survive.

“We were 10 friends at the party,” Shriki said, “four of them were killed,” including Yochai. Shriki remained in Tze’elim for seven hours, and at nightfall, he drove back to his hometown of Netanya.

“I rested for one day only before starting to train for the European championship,” Shriki told JNS.

Late last month, he won a gold medal in the men’s under-69 kg Gi category at the Paris Jiu Jitsu 2024 Grand Prix.

“My message to Jews around the world is that we need to unite, be stronger and win this war. We are not only fighting in Gaza, we are fighting in the media and we are fighting those in the world who believe nonsense,” he said.

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