Wax kicked off the 2004 Olympics with a technical victory, achieved thanks to political considerations. The Israeli judoka was drawn against Arash Miresmaeili of Iran, who announced he will not fight Wax. The Iranian claimed he is boycotting the competition "out of sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinians". Miresmaeili then proceeded to show up for the weigh in, but was found to be in excess of the weight limit and therefore was eliminated. Therefore Udi received a bye from the round of 32 and went directly to the round of 16. Wax met the Algerian Amar Meridja in a round of 16 match on August 15. The Israeli was unable to score any points, as Meridja won on a Yuko in a very defensive match-up. Thus Udi was eliminated from the Olympics.
Wax is Israel's premier judoka in the under-66 kilograms class. He was considered a prime medal prospect but a car accident in November 2003, and the resultant surgery, had hampered his preparation process for the Athens Games. Amazingly, Udi passed the Olympic criteria only five months after major surgery. Wax explains that he began his judo career because "in Ramat Ha'Sharon there was no other sport to play. So my parents sent me to do judo."
In 1998 Wax proved he was an international force to be reckoned with, when he won the bronze in Colombia at the World Under-20 Championship. In 2000 the judoka had a good run on the grand prix circuit when he won the Minsk meet and came in second in Austria. Despite this fine run, he failed to make the criteria for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In 2003 Udi scored his first high placing in a major competition when he ranked 5th overall in the European Championship.
Later that year he suffered through a debilitating car-crash. The Olympic committee wrote him off and concentrated on other candidates, but Wax's tenacity amazed everyone. In March 2004, four months after the accident, Udi competed in Rotterdam but lost the third match and failed to meet the criteria. On April 3, Wax went to Georgia and did much to help guarantee his place with a dazzling performance. In the National Championship he lost the final to Yoni Arami but was moving much better and seemed well on the way to full recovery. Udi finally clinched his Olympic berth in Bucharets in May 2004, and succeeded in overcoming the odds against his recovery.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. June 27, 1979
Ramat Ha'Sharon, Israel
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