The popularity of rhythmic gymnastics in Israel has soared since the Tokyo Olympics, when Linoy Ashram came first in the individual all-around final, becoming the first Israeli woman to win an Olympic gold medal.
That trend is set to continue, after Romi Paritzki, Shani Bakanov, Eliza Banchuk, Adar Friedmann, Ofir Shaham and Diana Svertsov won Israel’s first ever group rhythmic gymnastics world championships gold medal in Valencia last Friday night.
Fittingly, Ashram – now a national assistant coach – played an important role in preparing them, and rushed to join in the team’s celebration.
Despite scoring a slightly lower than expected 32.650 first-up in their “3 ribbons 2 balls” routine – performed to a dance track interspersed with the chorus from Dana International’s 1998 Eurovision winning song Diva – the Israeli group held their nerve, and executed a stunning five hoops performance that earned them a PB high score of 38.150.
The soundtrack for that one included a quote from the 2017 film Wonder Woman that starred Israeli actress Gal Gadot.
It proved good enough to edge Israel in front of eventual runners-up China, and third-placed Spain.
Paritzki revealed that after their first routine they remained composed.
“We gave all our energy and were really focused on our goal.
“We’d worked really hard, [so] this win is really special for us.”
The Israelis won a second group gold medal the next day, placing first in the “3 ribbons 2 hoops” final, ahead of China and Ukraine.
And their 2023 worlds medal tally reached three when Daria Atamanov won bronze in the individual all-around final, after qualifying in seventh position.
Her combined score of 131.400 was 0.75 of a point higher than fourth placegetter Stiliana Nikolova of Bulgaria.
2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Jewish Melburnian Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva – who trains for much of the year in Baku, Azerbaijan – also performed strongly in world championships individual events, placing 37th out of 82 in all-around.
Her best apparatus results were in clubs, scoring 28.750 to place 33rd, and in hoop, scoring 28.800 to come 38th, while she came 52nd in ball, and 54th in ribbon.
Reflecting on her fifth world championships appearance, she commented on Instagram, “What a rollercoaster! The Spanish crowd, the atmosphere – all the rhythmic gymnastics fans have been insane”.
“I’m proud to keep up the top ranked position across Oceania and Commonwealth countries.”