By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel -
In what is hoped to be a warmup to a successful trip to the Tokyo Olypmics, Israeli star gymnast Linoy Ashram wowed the crowd with stellar performances and took home a gold and two silver medals at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup held last week in Pesaro, Italy.
Ashram, 21, won the gold medal in the balls performance on the final day of the competition on Saturday. Competing in the hoops, Ashram narrowly missed gold, finishing only 50 points behind Russian gymnast Dina Averina.
Earlier, she also won silver in the clubs competition, again losing to a Russian, but this time to Averina’s twin sister Arina.
Ashram did not do as well in the ribbons competition, always a crowd favorite, finishing only sixth.
The Russian duo have been Ashram’s main challengers for gold and are set to be her biggest competition at the Olympics.
Earlier this year, Ashram won the all-around gold medal at the FIG World Cup 2021 that was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, adding to a long list of victories in her 10-year-long career representing Israel in international gymnastics competitions.
With a strong team that has been training and competing for years, Israel’s rhythmic gymnastics athletes are among the strongest hopes for medals at this summer’s delayed Olympic Games that are scheduled to be held in Tokyo.
The official Olympic website claims that the “Averina twins are set to continue their domination of the sport,” however, “Linoy Ashram of Israel is one to watch if either Averina falters … She is the reigning European all-around champion.”
With the Olympics postponed last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, all athletes have been forced to adjust their training in order to focus on the games where the rhythmic gymnastics competition is set to open on August 6.
“I’ve tried to look on the bright side, which is that I have been able to work more on my routines,” Ashram told the Olympic website.
Team Israel will march into the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo for the official opening of the games on Friday, July 23, which will be followed by the Paralympic Games that open on August 24.