Israel’s Ashram takes gold in European championships

It was the first time an Israeli took top honors at this competition, which took place this year in Kiev, Ukraine.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Linoy Ashram, 21, won the gold medal in the individual all-around at the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships Sunday, two days after her colleagues on the Israeli team won top honors in the group competition.

There are four events in the competition, where the athletes tumble, leap and dance to music while flinging, catching and waving either a hoop, ball, clubs or ribbon. Ashram won by the thinnest of margins at the end, having tied with Belarussian Alina Harnasko with an overall score of 100.900. She squeaked by her opponent by outscoring her technically, on the quality of the execution of her moves.

“I’ve been waiting for this event for a long time, because what’s a sportsman without a competition,” Ashram told Israel’s Sports Channel after her win. “The championship was on a very high level.”

Referring to the cancellation of sporting events during the coronavirus pandemic, Ashram expressed her gratitude to her family, sponsors and sports bodies that have supported her throughout the shutdown.

It was the first time an Israeli took top honors at this competition, which took place this year in Kiev, Ukraine. According to the award announcement, Ashram was the first non-Russian to win the European Championships since 1997.

Ashram came very close last year, finishing in second place overall, with golds in the ball and clubs events. Perhaps more prestigiously, she took silver in the all-arounds at the World Championships in 2018. She also won her first gold in an all-around that year, at the Guadalajara World Cup.

A fixture on the Israeli artistic gymnastics team for years, beginning in the junior division, Ashram has also taken gold several times in individual devices at various World Cup and Grand Prix competitions, as well as myriad silver and bronze medals in all-arounds and individual events. In several competitions, she was the first Israeli gymnast to ever climb the podium.

She is one of the most successful rhythmic gymnasts Israel has ever produced.

Minister of Culture and Sport Hili Tropper congratulated the athlete on her achievement.

“Linoy Ashram proved again her amazing abilities and her unique spirit with her victory…. Linoy, a true champion, has set another career high. This achievement joins a significant list of recent achievements in Israeli sports and I am proud and excited to welcome it,” he said.

On Saturday, Israel’s Peter Paltchik won gold in the under-100 kg weight class in the European Judo Championships, and Yoav Cohen and Shahar Tzuberi went 1-2 in the European Windsurfing Championships. Katy Spychakov took silver in the women’s race.

Ashram, as well as the six-member rhythmic gymnastics team, are considered top contenders for medals at the Olympic Games next summer in Tokyo.